Russia resumes long-range bomber patrols

Updated: 2007-08-17 23:34

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that he had ordered the military to resume regular long-range flights of strategic bombers amid a chill in relations with the United States.

A Russian Su-24 medium-range bomber, known by NATO as 'Fencer,' flies somewhere at undisclosed location in Russia in this 2002 file photo. [AP]

"I have made a decision to resume regular flights of Russian strategic aviation," Putin said in televised remarks. "We proceed from the assumption that our partners will view the resumption of flights of Russia's strategic aviation with understanding."

"Starting today, such tours of duty would be conducted regularly and on the strategic scale," Putin said. "Our pilots have been grounded for too long, they are happy to start a new life."

Since 1992, Russia had unilaterally stopped flights of its strategic aviation in remote combat areas. However, "not all of countries followed suit" and that has created certain problems for Russia's security, Putin said.

"For this reason I have made the decision on the resumption of flights of Russian strategic aviation," he added.

Putin made the remarks as he observed the final stage of the "Peace Mission 2007" anti-terror drill, sponsored by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in the Chebarkul military range near the Ural Mountain city of Chelyabinsk, with leaders of other SCO member states.

The anti-terror drill, staged by the six member states of the SCO, have been carried out first in China's Urumqi, and then in Chelyabinsk, from August 9 to August 17.

The SCO groups Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China and Russia. Mongolia, Pakistan, India and Iran hold observer status at SCO meetings.

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