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President Obama has spent most of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing trying to avoid Vladimir Putin. For his part, the Russian leader seemed amused at the cold shoulder, gamely trying to force photo ops with his American counterpart. The result was a collected, smirking Putin and an exhausted, peevish Obama. The body language of the photo above tells the story almost as well as Russia’s latest troop movements.
As Obama bumbled at APEC, Putin moved his army into Ukraine:
Eyewitnesses have spotted hundreds of Russian-made vehicles and heavy munitions moving into eastern Ukraine. Thousands of Russian troops are on the border — and thousands more may already be inside Ukraine, if one informed estimate is to be believed.
The steady, and by several accounts heavy, buildup of troops and military equipment along Ukraine’s border with Russia has U.S. officials on alert ahead of a possible new offensive by Russian-backed separatists in the country’s restive east.
“Obviously this represents an escalation. Escalation remains high and is rising,” spokesman Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said in an interview.
If that wasn’t enough of a message, Russian bombers are headed to the Gulf of Mexico:
Russia’s long-range bombers will conduct regular patrol missions from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, the military said Wednesday, a show of muscle reflecting tensions with the West over Ukraine.
A statement from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu came as NATO’s chief commander accused Moscow of sending new troops and tanks into Ukraine – a claim quickly rejected by Russia.
Shoigu said the tensions with the West over Ukraine would require Russia to also beef up its forces in the Crimea, the Black Sea Peninsula that Russia annexed in March.
He said Russian long-range bombers will conduct flights along Russian borders and over the Arctic Ocean. He added that “in the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.”
I doubt the State Department is still giggling about Mitt Romney and his 1980s foreign policy. As a Cold War submarine vet myself, I think Fred Thompson best sums up my feelings: