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Somebody forwarded to me an email, in Romanian, about this incident. I read it this morning.

Basically it was a translation of the article published by the Russian Radio, available here.

Two things have grabbed my attention:

After the incident, the foreign media reported that “Donald Cook” was rushed into a port in Romania. There all the 27 members of the crew filed a letter of resignation. It seems that all 27 people have written that they are not going to risk their lives. This is indirectly confirmed by the Pentagon statement according to which the action demoralized the crew of the American ship.”

and

“The system with which the Russian Su-24 shocked the American destroyer “Donald Cook” has the code name “Khibiny”. This is the name of the mountain range on the Kola Peninsula in the Arctic Circle. “Khibiny” is the newest complex for radioelectronic jamming of the enemy. They will be installed on all the advanced Russian planes .
Recently the complex has undergone regular testing exercises on the ground in Buryatia. Apparently, the tests which were conducted under conditions as close to real as possible, were successful.”

So 27 American Navy personnel were scarred shitless by an extremely powerful experimental device soon to be deployed on ‘all the advanced Russian planes’!

OK, let’s get this straight. I’m no privy to any military secrets, Russian or American. For all I care/know this might have taken place ‘as advertised’. But there is one thing I know for certain, the Russians have actually published this article. So lets see what we can gather from this, undeniable, fact.

There are two main possibilities.

1. The whole thing is a bogus. Well, not entirely, the fly by has actually taken place, so only the spin out might be considered an elaborate invention. Why? D.J. Dyer offers a very pertinent reason:Donald Cook is the first of our permanently forward-stationed ballistic missile defense (BMD) warships, which we’ve been planning to put in the European theater as part of the Obama “substitute” for the Bush 43 missile defense plan.” so the Russians couldn’t afford to loose the opportunity to raise the issue one more time.
2. The Russians have indeed developed a very efficient “complex for radioelectronic jamming of the enemy” and … used an experimental version in an actual encounter with a potential enemy, even before massively deploying it on the the rest of their Air Force?!? Does any of this make any sense?

Actually yes. It makes some sense.
Judging by the fact that somebody took the trouble to translate and disseminate the article in other languages than Russian and English means that that somebody thinks the effort is worthwhile. People have forwarded it  so, at least apparently, the whole thing got some traction. After reading the comments on the original link that impression is beefed up even more.

But what if we dig a little deeper?
To me at least it starts to smell like desperation. Do you remember how much hype Hitler made about his ‘secret weapons’ towards the end of WWII? No I won’t dismiss altogether the Russian military establishment, it still is very capable of throwing a hefty punch. The problems arise, exactly as they did in Hitler’s case, from the extreme concentration of decision power in present day Russia. Dictators tend to become elongated from the real world and to see nothing but enemies everywhere they look around. Enemies that have to be frightened into submission, no matter how, no matter what. In fact it’s more about alleviating  one’s own fears (dictator’s own fears) than anything else. Hiding desperation under a blanket of extreme aggression.

One other thing. Romania suffered for some 40 years the rigors of communist rule. During 25 of those years if somebody would have disseminated news about how strong the Americans were and how they had humiliated the Red Army that person would have gotten a hefty prison term  for defeatism and propaganda favorable to the enemy. Nowadays bashing America is …. you find the right word… No, the Americans are not whiter than Snow White but piling on their heads things that don’t belong there isn’t helpful for any of us.