Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pentagon Expects Russian Bomber

WASHINGTON - The Russian air force has moved several Tu-95 Bear bombers to air bases in northern Siberia and may be planning soon to fly them close to U.S. airspace off Alaska, officials said Thursday.

Kenneth Bacon, spokesman for Defense Secretary William Cohen, indicated the Pentagon sees no threat in the Russian moves and considers them an effort to bolster the public image of a military in decline.

Bacon said it fits a recent pattern of Russian air training and surveillance and suggested the Russians remain trapped in ?Cold War thinking? despite the collapse of communism and the end of the nuclear arms race.

?We regard the Cold War as being over,? Bacon said, even though U.S. forces still monitor Russian forces.

Within the last few days the Russians moved several Bear bombers to Anadyr air base, in far northeastern Siberia near the Bering Sea, and three Bear bombers were sent to Tiksi air base, in north-central Siberia on the Laptev Sea, Bacon said.

Bear bombers are propeller-driven, long-range aircraft capable of launching nuclear weapons.

?We would anticipate that in the next few days they might fly one or several of these planes up through the Bering Straits and close to Alaska,? Bacon said. ?We are well-trained, and we're ready to deal with these episodes.?

The last time the Russians deployed bombers over the Bering Sea was March 5-6, the spokesman said.

Bacon's comments appeared designed to pre-empt a Russian claim to have penetrated U.S. air defenses off Alaska. The Russians twice this autumn flew warplanes near the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk in the Sea of Japan and afterward released photographs showing they had approached the carrier.

The earlier episodes showed the Russians are ?perhaps lodged deeply in Cold War thinking,? Bacon said. He dismissed suggestions that, in allowing the Russian planes to approach the Kitty Hawk, the Navy had let down its guard.

?These planes were acquired by the battle group's radar at some distance off; they were followed,? Bacon said. In the October incident, there was a delay in launching interceptor aircraft from the Kitty Hawk because the carrier was refueling and lacked the wind speed to get planes airborne, he said.

?If the Navy had felt there was an emergency under way, they could have broken off the refueling, accelerated the carrier and launched the planes,? Bacon said. ?I think the fact is, there was nothing about either of these incidents that led the Navy to believe that anything out of the ordinary was happening, that they were under any particular threat or that they needed an extraordinary response.?