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Russia’s “Top Gun” Adventure in Venezuela

topgun091708.jpgThere seems to be an emerging pattern of Russia’s leadership copying the scripts of Hollywood blockbusters as a guide to foreign policy … I wonder if Jean Claude Van Damme is being considered as a replacement for Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov… From an Paul du Quenoy op/ed on Al Jazeera:

But it is perhaps worth recalling German unification chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s warning that Russia is never as strong or as weak as it looks. As we approach the spectre of a new cold war, however, we can rest confident that Russia’s strength is of the exaggerated quality. Last week, Russian bombers landed in Venezuela. After mauling its former colony of Georgia, Russia is now reaching out to a Latin American well-wisher, whose leader spoke positively of its actions and just severed diplomatic relations with Washington. Ugly shadows of the Cuban Missile Crisis, we are told, loom over the tranquil Caribbean. One would have to read far into most news stories, however, to learn that Russia’s “power projection” consists of just two Tu-160 bombers, which were entered into service in 1987. Almost as old as the classic film Top Gun, their stated purpose is to train over neutral waters for a few days and then return to Russia. Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president and a former air force general himself, plans to fly “one of those monsters,” as he calls them, and excitedly announced that “Yankee hegemony is finished.”

In defense of the Russian Air Force, Top Gun debuted in theaters in 1986 – a full year before these Tu-160s were mobilized.