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Russian strategic bombers conduct 20-hr patrol over Arctic Ocean

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Two Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers have carried out a routine patrol over remote areas of the Arctic that lasted for almost 20 hours, a Russian Air Force spokesman said on Wednesday.
MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - Two Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers have carried out a routine patrol over remote areas of the Arctic that lasted for almost 20 hours, a Russian Air Force spokesman said on Wednesday.

Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans last August, following an order signed by former President Vladimir Putin.

"After a 20-hour patrol, which included in-flight refueling from Il-78 aerial tankers, two Tu-95MS bombers returned to their home base at the Ukrainka airfield in the Amur Region [Russia's Far East]," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said.

"All Russian Air Force flights are performed...in strict accordance with international rules on the use of airspace over neutral waters without violating the borders of other states," he said, adding that during the flights the crews develop their flying skills in northern latitudes, over unmarked terrain.

He also said NATO fighters accompanied the Russian bombers when they flew over neutral waters near Alaska.

Although it was common practice during the Cold War for both the U.S. and the Soviet Union to keep nuclear strategic bombers permanently airborne, the Kremlin cut long-range patrols in 1992. The decision came as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the ensuing economic and political chaos.

However, the newly-resurgent Russia, awash with petrodollars, has invested heavily in military technology, and the resumption of long-range patrols is widely seen among political commentators as another sign of its drive to assert itself both militarily and politically.

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