U.S. officials expressed concern Tuesday about the presence of two nuclear-powered Russian submarines off the U.S. east coast -- just weeks after two Russian subs cracked through the ice near the North Pole and successfully test-fired two long-range missiles.
It wasn't immediately clear if the submarines along the U.S. shore were involved in the mid-July exercise near the pole, but Russia's embassy in Ottawa told Canwest News Service this week that the missile tests have "nothing to do with" asserting control over the disputed central Arctic Ocean, Canada.com reports.
Although Pentagon officials monitoring the subs' movements didn't consider them threatening, one senior military official said the patrols were unusual, given the weakened state of the Russian navy and the failure of Moscow to conduct such missions in years.
"Is it unusual? Yes, but we don't view it as provocative at all," the official said, adding that both subs remained in international waters at all times. The patrols were reported on the Web site of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Meanwhile, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of staff of Russia's armed forces, says the patrols are not newsworthy.
Nogovitsyn said Wednesday Russia resumed the submarine patrols after restarting strategic bomber patrol flights in 2007, The Associated Press reports.
The aircraft to command and control troops in the event of a nuclear war is being built on the basis of the new wide-body Ilyushin Il-96-400M