Ivanov Says Strategic Bomber Patrols No Return to Cold War

Russia's resumption of long-distance strategic bomber patrol flights, suspended after the collapse of the Soviet Union, does not imply a return to the Cold War, RIA-Novosti quoted a top Russian government official Thursday.

Moscow announced last Friday that strategic patrol flights had been re-started and would continue on a permanent basis, with patrol areas including zones of commercial shipping and economic activity.

Sergei Ivanov, first deputy prime minister in charge of the defense industry, told journalists Thursday: "This has nothing to do with 'bloc mentality' or confrontation, let alone a return to the Cold War."

He said the flights are conducted "in line with the statutes of international law, and do not violate anybody's territorial interests."

The former defense minister said the flights are completely transparent, and that "our American partners need not worry."

President Vladimir Putin, announcing the resumption of patrol flights last week, said that although the country halted long-distance strategic patrol flights to remote regions in 1992, other states continued the practice, which created certain problems for national security.

Washington played down the significance of Russian strategic bomber flights.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: "That's a decision for them to take... If Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again, that's their decision."

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