Support The Moscow Times!

Putin: Russian Strategic Bomber Patrols Are Response to U.S. Intransigence

President Vladimir Putin said a recent flurry of Russian strategic bomber patrols near NATO airspace was a response to U.S. insistence on flying nuclear bombers along Russia's borders.

Amid rising international tensions over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Putin also stressed that Russia's bombers have not violated foreign airspace: "Our exercises are exclusively conducted in international waters and international airspace," Putin said in an interview with Germany's ARD television on Sunday, according to a transcript on the Kremlin's website.

In late October, NATO officials flagged an unusual number of sorties by Russia's giant Tu-95 strategic bombers following provocative flight routes over the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea.

While the alliance has reported Russian fighters violating the airspace of several member nations in the Baltic region and Eastern Europe in recent months, it has not accused Russian bombers of entering NATO territory.

Putin said the expansion of Russia's bomber patrols is a return to a Cold War norm that the U.S. never abandoned.

The Soviet Union regularly deployed their Tu-95 bombers during the Cold War in a bid to achieve parity with the U.S.'s far-larger fleet of B-52 bombers, but essentially grounded its air force when the Soviet Union collapsed.

"Meanwhile, our U.S. partners continued to fly their nuclear aircraft along their previous routes, including to areas close to our borders. Therefore several years ago, seeing no positive developments and no one ready to meet us halfway, we resumed strategic air patrols to remote areas," Putin said.

Russia first renewed strategic nuclear bomber patrols and exercises in 2007, but has ramped up activity in recent months as relations with the West have soured over Ukraine.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.