Air Force spokesman said that Russian long-range bombers have began its Arctic mission that will include firing cruise missiles.
The move follows last month's announcement by President Vladimir Putin that Russian bombers were resuming long-range training missions over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, the first time such flights were held since the Soviet Union's collapse.
Such flights can take the planes to points from which nuclear-tipped cruise missiles could be fired at the United States.
Air Force spokesman Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky's statement did not specify to what areas of the Arctic the Tu-95 "Bear" bombers would be flying, but he said the exercise would involve mid-air refueling and cruise missile firing. Military officials previously have said the bombers do not carry nuclear-armed weapons on the training flights.
The flights, and Russia's recent land exercises with China, underline a growing sense of confidence in the military, which is recovering from the severe money problems suffered during the early post-Soviet years.
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