During the cold war, Soviet and US planes routinely escorted one another along the outskirts of one another's airspace, with the pilot's fingers surely on the trigger. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Cold War was considered over, and the Russian planes ceased their flights around US territory.
That was 1992 - This is now.
Russian bombers began flying off the coast of Alaska last year - a direct threat to US oil supply. This was the first real show of force from Russia towards the United States in nearly two decades. It adds to the increased tensions between the two nations, and may be pushing a direct threat in the face of the Georgian conflict.
Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, warned Moscow that they are playing a dangerous game by pushing the US into Cold War relations with the country.
Russia's resurgence has been made possible by the income gained from energy resources and their respective high prices. Europe's dependence on Russia for energy has given Moscow influence over the continent that the Soviets could have only dreamed of. And now that the once broken Russian government is being strengthened with Cold Hard Cash, and they sense an air of anti-Americanism throughout the world, Russia is looking beyond the Soviet era and into the beginnings of a new Russian Empire.
As this BBC report states, Russia is clearly back after the chaos from the Soviet collapse:
With the war coming to a general close in Iraq, tensions are rising as the US and Russia assert their influence - Cold War style. China is not yet a major player, militarily, though they have been a nuisance to US naval operations - shadowing US fleets and interrupting training exercises in deep waters. The US is faced with Georgia's situation, Iran's Russian backed Nuke plan, tensions due to Polish missile defense systems, Ukrainian pleas for help after Russia's claim to their territory (similar to Georgia), Russia's announcement that it plans to use a 1960's style tactic of placing nuclear missiles in Cuba, China's relationship with Taiwan and Japan, and the list goes on.
From where I stand, the 21st century is shaping up to look a lot like the 20th century. It would appear that we may have been witness to a false spring... and the Bitterly Cold Winter of War between Russia and the US is still simmering.