Friday, March 14, 2014

Russian bombers patrol Arctic airspace

Four Russian strategic bombers have been patrolling the Arctic Ocean over the past 12 hours, a senior military officer said Friday.

The patrols fit with previous announcements Russia would beef up its military presence in the area.

"In addition to the exercises of our brave paratroopers, we have arranged an air patrol mission by Tu-95MS strategic aviation planes over districts of the Arctic Ocean," Russian Air Force Commander Viktor Bondarev told reporters.

"The four airplanes have already been flying over these northern districts for 12 hours. They will be refueled in mid-air and will continue their patrolling flight for another 12 or 14 hours," the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

Russia this week has also been conducting massive exercises of airborne troops in its south-western regions, including those bordering Ukraine.

Earlier this year, Moscow revealed plans to expand its military presence in the Arctic and deploy a combined-arms force in that region by 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Russia will never "surrender" its Arctic area. In December, Putin ordered the defense ministry to take every step necessary to protect Russia's security and national interests in the region.

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