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Putin with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon at today's military exercises (epa)
August 17, 2007 -- President Vladimir Putin says Russia has resumed long-range strategic-bomber flights on a "permanent" basis.
He said Russia sent 14 such bomber aircraft on patrols far beyond Russian territory today.
ITAR-TASS quotes Air Force spokesman Colonel Aleksandr Drobyshevsky as saying the bombers flew over the waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans. He said NATO jets had escorted the Russian aircraft.
Putin said Russia's 15-year suspension of such bomber flights had affected its security as other nations had continued such missions, an apparent reference to the United States.
He made the remarks to reporters today at the conclusion of joint military exercises of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, comprising Russia, China, and four Central Asian states, in Russia's Ural mountains.