Russian nuclear-capable bombers fly near Alaska

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers have flown near Alaska on a mission demonstrating the military’s long-range strike capability.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday that four Tu-95 bombers have flown over the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea, the Chukchi Sea and the Northern Pacific during an 11-hour mission. The ministry said the bombers were shadowed by U.S. F-22 fighters during part of their patrol.

Lt. Gen. Sergei Kobylash, the commander of Russian long-range aviation, praised the bombers’ crews for their “excellent” performance. He added that Su-35 and MiG-31 fighters jets escorted the bombers during “the most complicated stages of the route.”

The U.S. also scrambled its fighters when two groups of Russian warplanes neared Alaska last week.

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Russia and the United States have regularly sent strategic bombers on training flights near each other’s borders as their ties have sunk to post-Cold War lows after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and Russian support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

U.S. and its NATO allies have repeatedly said that Russian fighter jets have performed unsafe maneuvers while shadowing their planes — accusations that the Russian military has rejected.

Moscow has repeatedly voiced concern over the deployment of NATO forces near Russian borders, describing it as a threat to its security. Russia and the alliance also have blamed each other for conducting destabilizing military exercises near the borders.

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