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Russia denies violating U.K. airspace

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Reports in the British media that two Russian strategic bombers violated U.K. airspace are untrue, an aide to the Russian Air Force commander said Wednesday.
MOSCOW, July 18 (RIA Novosti) - Reports in the British media that two Russian strategic bombers violated U.K. airspace are untrue, an aide to the Russian Air Force commander said Wednesday.

British media reported earlier Wednesday that RAF fighters were scrambled to intercept Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers that had taken off from an airbase on the Kola Peninsula, in Russia's north, and were flying in the direction of the U.K.

"Reports that Russian bombers were flying towards British airspace are untrue. The long-range aircraft were on a scheduled mission over international waters," Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky quoted Col.-Gen. Alexander Zelin, Air Force commander, as saying.

Gen. Zelin dismissed as rubbish speculation to the effect that Russian bomber flights were linked to an ongoing diplomatic flap between the two countries.

"Bomber flights in international airspace are planned at least six months ahead, and we inform all countries concerned about them in advance," his aide quoted him as saying.

The U.K. decided to expel four Russian diplomats and suspend visa facilitation talks with Moscow after Russia refused to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the U.K.'s key suspect in the Alexander Litvinenko murder case, citing Russia's Constitution that does not permit the extradition of Russian nationals.

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