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    Russian bombers back from 12-hour patrol over Arctic, Atlantic

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    Two Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers have completed a patrol mission over the neutral waters of the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic, a Russian Air Force spokesman said Friday.

    MOSCOW, August 8 (RIA Novosti) - Two Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers have completed a patrol mission over the neutral waters of the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic, a Russian Air Force spokesman said Friday.

    "The patrol flight of the strategic missile-carrying aircraft lasted about 12 hours," Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik said, adding that during the flight they had been shadowed by two F-16 fighters from one of the NATO countries.

    He reiterated that all Russian strategic patrols are performed in strict accordance with international rules on the use of airspace over neutral waters, without violating the borders of other states.

    Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans last August, following an order signed by then-President Vladimir Putin. Russian bombers have since carried out more than 80 strategic patrol flights and have often been escorted by NATO planes.

    Air Force commander Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said in April that Russia would drastically increase the number of strategic patrol flights over the world's oceans to 20-30 a month in the near future.

    International focus on the Arctic is rising due to the presence of potentially large deposits of natural resources, including oil and natural gas, which are rapidly being exhausted in more accessible parts of the Earth.

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