MOSCOW, July 9 (RIA Novosti) - Four Russian strategic bombers are carrying out a routine patrol over the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, a Russian Air Force spokesman said on Wednesday.
"Four Tu-95MS [Bear] strategic bombers based at the Ukrainka airfield in the Amur Region [in the Far East] are conducting a routine 14-hour patrol flight over the Arctic and Atlantic oceans," Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik said, adding that the bombers are accompanied by NATO fighters.
"During the flights the crews develop their flying skills in northern latitudes, over featureless territory. The patrol crews include young pilots," he said.
Drik reiterated that all Russian strategic patrols are performed in strict accordance with international rules on the use of airspace over neutral waters, without violating the borders of other states.
Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans last August, following an order signed by former president Vladimir Putin. Russian bombers have since carried out over 80 strategic patrol flights and have often been escorted by NATO planes.
Air Force commander, Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said in April that Russia would drastically increase the number of strategic patrol flights over the world's oceans to 20-30 a month in the near future.
The international focus on the Arctic is rising due to potential large deposits of natural resources, including oil and natural gas, which are rapidly decreasing on more available parts of the Earth.