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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Navy Says Sub Off U.S. Coast ‘Normal’

APNogovitsyn pointing at a chart on Wednesday while giving a news conference where he also discussed Georgia.

A senior Russian general on Wednesday shrugged off Washington’s concern about Cold War-style patrols of nuclear submarines off the U.S. coast, saying it was business as usual for Moscow to keep its Navy in shape.

“I don’t know if it’s news to anyone,” Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the General Staff, told a news conference. “The Navy should not stay idle at its moorings.”

He was commenting on a report published Tuesday in The New York Times that said two nuclear-powered Russian submarines had been patrolling off the eastern seaboard of the United States in a mission that was rare for post-Cold War times.

The newspaper said the submarines had not taken any provocative action beyond their presence outside U.S. territorial waters, but Pentagon officials voiced wariness over Russia’s motivation for ordering what it said was such an unusual mission.

Nogovitsyn said the patrols were “a normal thing” and suggested that the United States also has submarines patrolling near Russia.

Russia, keen to play a more assertive role on the world stage, relies heavily on its still-formidable nuclear triad of land-based missiles, nuclear submarines and strategic bombers.

In 2007, it resumed flights of nuclear-capable bombers across the Atlantic.

The latest incident comes as the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama works to thaw tense relations with Moscow over plans for a missile defense system in Central Europe.

Russia, meanwhile, conducted naval exercises with Venezuela last year in the Caribbean and sent one of its warships through the Panama Canal for the first time since World War II. The exercises with Venezuela were the first deployment of Russian ships to the Western Hemisphere since the Cold War.

Officials said they became aware of the most recent submarine activity off the East Coast early on through intelligence sources and were not notified by Moscow in advance of the patrols. They said the submarines had not crossed into U.S. waters, which extend 19 kilometers into the ocean.

“We have been monitoring them during transit and recognize the right of all nations to exercise freedom of navigation in international waters according to international law,” the Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement.

(AP, Reuters)