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Russian Bomber Missions Put Japan on High Alert

A Russian Tu-95 bomber plane. Maxim Maksimov

Japan's Air Force was put on high alert when two Russian long-range strategic bombers flew close to the country's airspace during a patrol mission, Japanese defense officials said Monday.

Two Russian Tu-95 bombers on Sunday flew northward along a group of islands near Okinawa Island in the direction Hokkaido, the officials told Kyodo news agency. They then headed for Russia's Sakhalin Island.

The bombers didn't violate Japanese airspace, RIA Novosti reported.

On Saturday Japan scrambled its fighters in response to a Russian long-range anti-submarine Tu-142 aircraft passing close to its borders.

Japanese defense statistics indicate that from July to September Japanese fighters had to take off from their bases on 105 occasions to intercept approaching Russian military aircraft.

Russia and Japan are locked in a protracted dispute over the Kuril Islands. Russia and Japan, who never signed a peace treaty at the end of World War II, both lay claim to the islands. They are currently administered by Russia.

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