In a provocative show for Russia, the United States landed a nuclear-powered bomber for the first time in the region above the Arctic Circle.
This is the shortest route to attack Moscow courtesy of the curvature of the Earth. The aircraft was armored: B-1B, a supersonic bomber built in the Cold War for entry missions into the then Soviet airspace.
The aircraft landed in the northernmost airspace of Bodo on Sunday at the Norwegian base in Orland, one of the four displaced last month. The details are now coming to the fore.
The crew of the “Dark Knight”, named the aircraft, created the so-called “Warm Pit-Stop”, in which four engines were shut down and re-fueled with the crew onboard. This is one of the simulations to take place during combat operations.
The Arctic Circle is seen by Moscow as a backyard, home to Norway and Sweden, with a strong military presence on the opposite side of the peninsula.
In addition to important military routes, Arctic melting has led to commercial sea lanes and greater exploration of gas and oil, taking advantage of the short distance between Russia and the West by the North Pole.
B-1Bs and other bombers have already swept across the region, but the landing has a symbolic repercussion: a message about coherence and controversy in line with the more aggressive speech by Joe Biden’s new government before Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.
Russia responded last month by sending a cruiser, Marshal Ustinov, for the first time to Waranger Fjord, who marks the maritime border with Norway – a member of NATO, a US-led military alliance.
More hints are expected, given that B-1B Norwegians are flying reconnaissance missions with F-16s and F-35s, along with Sweden’s Gripen fighters, among others, a Western ally that is NATO. Russia is not a part of and has a history of fear.
The move comes after Biden’s speeches and took action against Putin, accusing the Russian government of trying to kill anti-Alexey Navalny and banning Kremlin-linked officials.
All of this is part of the diplomatic dance of great powers, revived in power during Putin’s years (from 1999 to now) and pronounced by China’s vocalism by Xi Jinping.
Significantly, on Wednesday (10), Chinese Ambassador to Moscow Zhang Hanhui told the Interfax Agency that his country should coordinate policies aimed at the United States with Moscow.
“50 years ago, the United States and China opened the door to a relationship that had been closed for decades. Now, 50 years later, the United States needs to rectify its mistakes,” Zhang said.
Unlike Beijing, Beijing will hold a virtual meeting with its allies in the Quad, a military group that brings together the United States, Japan, Australia and India. Chinese-American tensions are increasing at points such as the South China Sea, which often receive B1-BS.
“As two major countries, China and Russia have a shared interest,” the ambassador said.
This is a typical bite and setback, as this Wednesday the United States confirmed that it would promote a high-level diplomatic meeting with Chinese envoys in Alaska.
According to the White House, the meeting by Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post is expected to bring together the foreign ministers of the countries “in the coming months”.
In this way, it is possible to read Putin as a way of claiming independence from Biden, who until now had only hinted at continuing the policy of confrontation with China established by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Republican Cold War 2.0 may change its tone, but not its purpose. Biden has already made it clear that he considers China as the United States’ biggest strategic rival, while he sees Russia as a dangerous rival, especially in the military arena.
In this way, seemingly small signals, such as sending an aircraft to a remote base in the Arctic, gain importance as a thermometer for a side-by-side arrangement.