Russia surprised over Western reports of bombers interception

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Moscow, Feb 12 (UNI) Russia today expressed surprise over the Western media reports about interception of Russian bombers in the Pacific Ocean.

''During the flight the bombers were escorted by F-15 fighters of the Japanese Air Force and US F-18 fighters from the Nimitz aircraft carrier, which happened at that time to be in the patrolling zone of the Russian Tu-95s,'' Russian Air Force spokesperson Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said.

''We are surprised by the concern that has been raised over this,'' RIA Novosti quoted Col Drobyshevsky as saying, while commenting on the alleged incident.

Western media had earlier quoted a US military official as saying Russian bombers were intercepted on Saturday flying near an American aircraft carrier in the West Pacific.

According to the media reports, one Russian Tu-95 Bear bomber flew close above the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier to the south of Japan, and another circled some 50 nautical miles from the ship.

Four F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters were reportedly launched from the air carrier to escort the Russian jets away from the area.

The reports also said the Russian fighters violated Japanese air space, prompting Japan to lodge a complaint with the Russian Embassy in Tokyo.

Col Drobyshevsky reiterated that all Russian strategic aviation flights are conducted in strict compliance with international regulations on the use of airspace over neutral waters and do not violate the borders of other states.

''We submit all necessary requests well in advance and deliver proper notifications,'' he said.

Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans last August, following an order by President Vladimir Putin. The move was widely seen as a sign of Russia's increasingly aggressive military stance.

UNI XC SYU RS1740

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