(CNN) – Russia appears to be flexing its military might, and that has the U.S and others nervous. One top u-s navy official says recent Russian military behavior hasn’t been seen since the cold war.
Russia is deploying its ballistic missile and attack submarines, in numbers, range and aggression not seen in two decades.
In an exclusive interview the commander of u-s naval forces in Europe tells c-n-n the buildup is part of an alarming strategic view.
Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander, U.S. naval forces Europe said, “They’re very clear that Nato is viewed as an existential threat to Russia. Our military capability they view in a very visceral way as a threat to Russia”
Adding to u-s concerns, Russia is deploying new submarines that are harder for u-s naval forces to track and detect
Following years and billions of dollars in investment, they are quieter, better-armed and have a greater range of operation.
Mark Ferguson: “The submarines that we are seeing are much more stealthy, they’re acoustically quieter, we’re seeing them have more advanced weapons systems, missile systems that can attack land at long ranges.”
The increased Russian sub activity is backed by a much broader military expansion. Russia is adding or upgrading some 12 naval bases across the Arctic Circle.
Expanding its capability to send subs in numbers through the crucial Greenland, Iceland, U.K. gap into the Atlantic – and closer to u-s and Nato territorial waters.
Moscow has also newly stationed six submarines in the black sea, giving Russia new capability into the Mediterranean.
The u-s believes the new activity is designed to deny Nato including the u-s the ability to operate within Russia’s so-called near abroad.
Mark Ferguson: “What we see in these operations, it’s, one, is focused on protecting the maritime flanks of Russia but also denying Nato the ability to operate within the maritime flanks as well, and i’m speaking of the Baltic sea, the black sea and areas in the far north Atlantic around Norway.”
Increasingly alarmed by Russia’s new sub deployments, the U.S and its Nato allies are launching new training exercises in anti-sub warfare.
And deploying new systems including the P-Eight Poseidon. CNN got an exclusive trip on the navy’s most advanced sub-hunter last May.
Jim Sciutto, chief national security correspondent said, “These are sonar buoys dropped into the water to track submarines. The plane can be equipped with torpedoes to destroy those submarines.”
Russia’s growing military activity extends above the surface as well. A Russian fighter jet’s fly-by of the USS Donald Cook this week coming within 30 feet laterally and 100 feet vertically is behavior that U. naval commanders have not witnessed since the cold war.
Mark Ferguson: “We had issued radio calls in both English and Russian and the aircraft didn’t respond and proceeded on a course directly at the ship. So while we’ve seen these interactions before, this one was different because of the proximity to the ship, the altitude and the flight path that it took.”