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    Russia slams as farce Canada's statement on Tu-160 flight

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    A Russian government source expressed astonishment on Friday over a statement made by Canada's defense minister over a flight by a Russian strategic bomber near the Canadian border.

    MOSCOW, February 27 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian government source expressed astonishment on Friday over a statement made by Canada's defense minister over a flight by a Russian strategic bomber near the Canadian border.

    Peter Mackay said two Canadian fighters forced the Russian Tu-160 Blackjack to make a U-turn on February 18 as it neared Canadian airspace less then 24 hours before U.S. President Barack Obama was due to visit Ottawa. The Canadian minister said the move was "a strong coincidence."

    "The Canadian defense minister's statements concerning the flights of our long-haul aircraft are totally unclear... This was a routine flight. The countries adjacent to the flight path had been notified and the planes did not violate the airspace of other countries. In this light the statements by the Canadian Defense Ministry provoke astonishment and can only be called a farce," the source said.

    The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky, confirmed that all the neighboring states had received prior notification of the flights by Russian strategic aircraft.

    Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik, a Russian Air Force spokesman, said earlier the Tu-160 flights were in compliance with international agreements and rules and did not violate Canadian airspace.

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