'Mothballed' Russian Bombers Resume Long-Range Patrols
| Fri Aug. 17, 2007 12:35 PM EDT
"We have decided to restore flights by Russian strategic aviation on a permanent basis," Mr Putin told reporters at joint military exercises with China and four Central Asian states in Russia's Ural mountains.
"In 1992, Russia unilaterally ended flights by its strategic aircraft to distant military patrol areas. Unfortunately, our example was not followed by everyone," Mr Putin said, in an apparent reference to the US.
"Flights by other countries' strategic aircraft continue and this creates certain problems for ensuring the security of the Russian Federation," he said.
In Washington, a state department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said Russia's decision was "interesting".
"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," he told reporters.
One of the reasons Russia halted its flights 15 years ago was that it could no longer afford the fuel.
Today Moscow's coffers are stuffed full of oil money, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow, and the Kremlin is determined to show it is still a military power to reckon with.