2 Bombers Get NATO Escort Near Alaska

NATO forces sent jets to escort two Russian long-range Air Force bombers patrolling neutral skies near Alaska, news agencies quoted the Defense Ministry as saying.

The military has resumed its Cold War practice of flying regular patrols far beyond its borders and in the last year has also sent turbo-prop Tu-95s over U.S. naval aircraft carriers and the Pacific island of Guam.

Accompanied by two Il-78 refueling tankers, the two Tu-95 "Bear" bombers flew for 15 hours over the Arctic and Pacific oceans, Interfax quoted Air Force spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky as saying Wednesday.

"In the course of the air patrol, long-range aviation aircraft were escorted by NATO jets in the region of Alaska," Drobyshevsky said.

Russia has raised military funding after years of neglect in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse.

The Navy has finished construction of mothballed submarines and restarted large-scale naval exercises that shortages of fuel and spare parts had made a rarity.

Analysts say the Kremlin is using its reviving military might to support a policy of projecting its power again on the world stage.

Some military observers say, however, that the armed forces are still hampered by a shortage of combat-ready assets and that the exercises are primarily a public relations exercise.