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Russian Bombers Prompt Complaints From Japan

Russia's Defense Ministry says two Russian strategic bombers have returned to their base in Siberia following a 16-hour training patrol over international waters north of Japan.

Reports say the patrol prompted the air forces of Japan and South Korea to send F-15 and F-16 fighters to monitor the mission.

Officials said the Russian flight involved two nuclear-capable Tu-95MS strategic bombers, several escort aircraft, and two Ilyushin flying tankers.

Russia has patrolled the region regularly since August 2007.

The Russian mission came as Japan on February 7 marked Northern Territories Day, calling for the return of the disputed Kurile Islands, held by Russia since World War II.

February 9 is the anniversary of the scuttling of the Russian cruiser "Varyag" during the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War.

Compiled from agency reports

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