KOTELNY ISLAND, March 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has dispatched four Tu-95MS strategic bombers on a 24-hour patrol over the Arctic Ocean, Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said Friday.
Bondarev said the four aircraft left their home base at the Ukrainka airbase in Russia’s Far East late on Thursday to carry out a 12-hour non-stop combat patrol mission over the Arctic.
“After an in-flight refueling, they will continue the patrol for another 12-14 hours,” the general said.
The Russian authorities have recently been calling for tighter security along the country’s Arctic frontiers and along its maritime transportation routes in the polar region.
Arctic territories are believed to hold vast untapped reserves of oil and gas. They have increasingly been at the center of disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice and make energy reserves more accessible.
Russia has made claims to several Arctic shelf areas and plans to defend its bid at the United Nations.
Russia also announced in February that it will form a new strategic military command by the end of 2014 to protect its interests in the Arctic.