Two bombers from the Russian air force flew uncomfortably close to American territory as they patrolled neutral space off the coast of Alaska, Reuters reports. NATO forces deployed several jets to escort the Russian planes away. The incident is yet another case of the Russian military resuming the Soviet-era practice of flying patrols beyond its borders.
The two planes were Tu-95 "Bear" bombers, the Russian equivalent of the B-52. Accompanied by a pair of refueling tankers, they flew for 15 hours over the Arctic and Pacific oceans. Last year the Russian army flew missions over US navy ships and the American territory of Guam. Some observers say the flights are less a military operation than a public relations ploy.