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Strategic bomber patrols not "saber rattling" - Russian AF

RIA Novosti |August 22, 2007

Regular flights of Russian strategic bombers do not pose a threat to other countries, and Russia always issues prior warnings of their patrols, an Air Force spokesman said Wednesday.

The British Defense Ministry earlier reported an alleged incident last Friday in which the Royal Air Force had to scramble its Typhoon fighters to intercept a Russian Tu-95MS Bear-H strategic bomber, which approached British air space during a flight over the North Atlantic.

"Our pilots never violate foreign airspace, and their actions have no aggression against other countries," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said.

He said Russian Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95MS strategic bombers have been conducting routine flights during the last six weeks over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Black Sea and toward the North Pole as part of scheduled pilot training.

"We have made prior announcements of all flights," the spokesman said. "There is no saber rattling involved."

President Vladimir Putin announced on August 17 that Russia had permanently resumed long-distance patrol flights of strategic bombers, which were suspended in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The president, speaking on the final day of large-scale military exercises involving Russia, China, and four Central Asian countries in the south Urals, said: "Air patrol areas will include zones of commercial shipping and economic activity. As of today, combat patrolling will be on a permanent basis. It has a strategic character."

The announcement gained substantial coverage in the British and other Western media, which called the Kremlin's move a return to the Cold War era.


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