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A pair of Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers carried
A pair of Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers carried out a routine patrol flight on Thursday over the Arctic Ocean off Alaska, an Air Force spokesman said.

Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik told RIA Novosti that the bombers had been "accompanied for one hour by two [U.S.] F-15 fighters over the Arctic Ocean near the shores of Alaska."

Two Tu-95 bombers took off on a regular 15-hour patrol flight from the Ukrainka airbase in Russia's Far East, Drik said. He also added that an aerial refueling was performed during the flight, and that the bombers then successfully landed back at their permanent base.

Drik also said that all flights by Russian aircraft are performed in strict compliance with international law on the use of airspace over neutral waters, without violating the borders of other states.

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.

Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans in August 2007, following an order signed by then-president Vladimir Putin.

Last year's resumption of long-range patrols was widely seen as a sign of Russia's drive to assert itself both militarily and politically.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in mid-August that the Bush administration was unhappy with flights by Russian strategic bombers near U.S. borders and accused Moscow of playing a "dangerous game."

Her comments came after two Russian strategic bombers carried out patrols along the coast of South America during a visit to Venezuela.


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