While the news only contains salacious (and generally false) information about this or that to discredit Trump, there is a lot going on that the mainstream media ignores. Hopefully this update brings you up to speed in part.
On 9 and on 12 October, anti-ship missiles were fired at the USS Mason from a shore site in Iranian/Houthi-controlled territory. The US destroyer was located just north of the Bab el Mandeb, cruising a sea lane used in international commerce. In both attacks, the missiles failed to reach the US ship.
Following two missile attacks against the USS Mason, a guided missile destroyer (DDG-87), the USS Nitze (DDG-94) fired a salvo of cruise missiles against three coastal radar sites operated by the Houthis.
Iranian-backed Houthis denied that they were responsible for the attacks.
There is a lot of potential for intrigue in these attacks. US backing of the Saudis in the Yemen civil war provides a strong incentive for the Houthis to want to damage a US naval ship or another US asset, but not at the risk of direct US military involvement.
The Saudis have a strong interest in distracting the international community from the Saudi air attack against a funeral that killed 155 people in Sana’a. The Saudis also have a strong interest in contriving a reason for direct US military involvement to end the military stalemate in Yemen.
The US cruise missile attack is agnostic about who fired the missiles, but definitive about the destruction of the radar sites that tracked the US destroyer.
Russian Military Expansion
The Russian media company, RBK, reported on 10 October that the Russian defense ministry is considering the possibility of returning to “military bases” in Cuba and Vietnam, according to Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov.
In response to a question about returning to Vietnam and Cuba, Pankov said, “We are working on this. We see this problem.” Subsequently Russian presidential press spokesman Dmitriy Peskov acknowledged the possibility of returning to the bases.
Pankov told the Russian parliament on 7 October, “we are dealing with the issue of the two bases.” Russian media reported no other details.
Peskov said, “You can see that the last two years have made appreciable adjustments to international affairs in general and to the international security posture. All countries, therefore, naturally, in accordance with their national interests, are assessing these changes and adopting certain measures in the channel which they deem necessary.”
In 2013 Russia and Vietnam signed an agreement on building a joint base for servicing submarines in Cam Ran. A year later, they agreed to simplified procedures for allowing Russian warships to have access. Russian Il-78 aircraft, supporting Tu-95MS bombers with mid-air refueling, have been serviced at the base since 2014.
Neither Pankov nor Peskov made statements that provide much additional insight into Russian intentions about foreign bases, but they feed the speculation. Russia’s announcements that its facilities in Syria will be converted into permanent bases apparently also are fueling speculation about the other bases. However, some Russian speakers may be dropping suggestions about potential or hypothetical base arrangements just to needle the US and NATO.
The return of the Russian military to Cuba and Vietnam would be a logical continuation of Russia’s foreign policy and another step on the path of confrontation with the United States and NATO.
President Putin envisions a resurgent Russia as the future great power rival to the US, but Putin’s Russia is not following the Soviet model. Putin’s plan seems closer to how the US has operated in the post-War era.
The discussion of bases indicates that Putin is considering a world-wide military presence that the Soviets never had. He just needs a navy and a healthier economy to make it feasible. Nevertheless, he is determined and, with limited resources, has made a start in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Reliable information from sources that I have personally indicates that Russia is expanding its oil exports at the same time that OPEC/Saudis are curtailing oil production to raise prices worldwide. The Russians need hard currency to rebuild and to expand and oil is their vehicle to do that.