Former US Senator Harry Reid believes that Russians are the force behind a spate of mysterious incidents in which Unidentified Flying Objects have harassed US military members off the coast of California.
Mr Reid sat down for an interview this week with Mysterywire.com, a website focused on paranormal topics. The interviewer, veteran journalist and long-time Coast to Coast AM guest host George Knapp, suggested the UFOs could be Chinese in origin, but the former senator disagreed.
"Always remember, Russia, the former Soviet Union, is run by a man who ran the KGB. They had as many as 30,000 agents at one time, KGB agents. So, Russia's involved in this, no question about it," Mr Reid said.
Neither Vladimir Putin's past, nor the number of agents he controlled, is necessarily evidence of the state's involvement with UFOs.
However, there has been an uptick of UFO sightings - particularly in the vicinity of US military installations or vehicles - in recent years, suggesting the craft could be unmanned drones in the service of a foreign power.
Mr Reid said UFOs were "something that cannot be ignored," and insisted that Joe Biden take the issue seriously and sit down for a briefing.
"I believe that there should be an ongoing entity, within the Pentagon would be the best place for it, whose sole job is to stay on top of the issue of UFOs," Mr Reid said.
Mr Reid worked toward such a research team while he was in office; in 2007, he helped launch the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program at the Pentagon, which studied UFOS and other unknown aerial phenomena.
The program cost $22m and lasted until 2012, though "backers" of the initiative told The New York Times that the program still operates off the books.
Last year, the US Office of Naval Intelligence began a similar program, called the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force.
The Pentagon confirmed earlier this month that photos and video taken in 2019 depicting triangle-shaped flying vehicles off the coast of California and of a "metallic blimp" and two other objects shaped like a sphere and an acorn were legitimate images of UFOs.
The Defense Department confirmed to Mysterywire that the UAPTF was investigating the sightings.
"I can confirm that the referenced photos and videos were taken by Navy personnel. The UAPTF has included these incidents in their ongoing examinations," the Pentagon spokesperson wrote.
According to flight logs from the incident off the California coast, as many as six UFOs swarmed US warships near the Channel Islands, moving at speeds of up to 40mph and with reportedly greater maneuverability than any known US military drone.
The Navy acknowledged that it has not been able to identify the flying objects.
According to Mr Reid, it is no longer grounds for mockery or derision inside the federal government to discuss UFOs.
"The federal government no longer, including people at the Pentagon, no longer criticize or harass or stop promotions of people who report these occurrences. In fact, they have done just the opposite in recent months, they now tell their pilots to report these unusual circumstances," he said.
He also commended the Pentagon for being honest and admitting it had no idea what the aircraft were, rather than offering up a cover explanation.
"And I appreciated the honesty of the Pentagon. Because when asked, what were these things, they say we don’t know. Rather than try to say they were balloons from some kind of a weather experiment. They say we don’t know. And that’s honest. That’s being honest," he said.