Russian president Vladimir Putin has revived a Cold War practice: keeping long-range bombers patrolling outside the borders of the country, ready to strike at...Oh, you know who. With...Well, do we have to tell you what?
No, the Cold War is not back. Putin may be a cynical SOB, but he's not deranged. The Putin government is clearly trying to demonstrate the independent course on which it wants to keep Russia, beholden to no one in the United States, Europe, or China. Reviving these patrols is a gesture, not preparation for nuclear war.
Still, it's worth pondering exactly what the Russia government plans to do with this independent power, and why it feels free to exercise it. High oil prices help the Russian economy, which helps Putin stay in power. Therefore, the Iraq war--not the only cause of high oil prices, but a significant one--helps Putin--maybe not an enemy of the United States, but no friend, either.