Putin flexing his muscles yet again.
Two Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers conducted practice cruise missile attacks on the United States during a training mission last week. This training mission appeared timed to the NATO summit in Wales, according to a report published on Monday in the Washington Free Beacon.
The aircraft were tracked flying a route across the northern Atlantic near Iceland, Greenland, and Canada’s northeast.
“Analysis of the flight indicated the aircraft were conducting practice runs to a pre-determined ‘launch box’ — an optimum point for firing nuclear-armed cruise missiles at US targets,” wrote Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon, citing unnamed defense officials. Each aircraft was capable of striking targets as far away as 1,800 miles since they were armed with six AS-15 nuclear-armed cruise missiles.
Representatives for the US Northern Command and Northern American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, declined to comment to Gertz ahead of his report, and told RT.com in an email Monday afternoon that they could not confirm the allegations printed by the Free Beacon. On his part, however, Gertz wrote that neither the US nor Canada responded to the alleged incident because it reportedly occurred outside of the North American Air Defense Identification Zone.
The report of these practice flights comes only days after Russia decided to revise a 2010 military doctrine to identify the US and NATO members as enemies, which “clearly outline[s] the conditions of a preemptive nuclear strike” against partner countries, Gertz wrote.
The practice bombing run conducted last week is not an isolated event, just the latest in a series of similar incidents involving intimidating Russian aircraft flying near the United States. Expert analysts have dismissed these flights as saber-rattling by Moscow as a result of tensions over the crisis in Ukraine. Others have indicated that Putin could be sending a message.
Admiral Cecil Haney, commander of the US Strategic Command, had this to say after the reports last month that Russian bombers came within 50 miles of California:
I will say that the business of them coming close to the United States of America, we take very seriously.