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Russian nuclear bombers relive Soviet glory

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AFP
Sunday, Sept 14, 2008

The Soviet glory days are back at this nuclear bomber base in southern Russia: the US is none too popular and the crews say they are ready to fly anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.

“It’s like the good old days,” Oleg Mikhailishchin, a pilot in camouflage uniform, told reporters during a rare visit by foreign media to the Engels base last month, before the war with Georgia further raised tensions with the West. More than 20 Tu-160 and Tu-95 bombers could be seen on the runway near the Volga River at this once top-secret base, where the two Tu-160 “White Swan” planes that landed in Venezuela on Wednesday flew from.

Russia is also dispatching a nuclear cruiser and other warships and planes to the Caribbean for the joint exercises with Venezuela, seen as a direct rebuff to the United States in the first such deployment since the Cold War.

(Article continues below)

Mikhailishchin spoke in a cafeteria dominated by a red Soviet emblem and a portrait of World War II commander Georgy Zhukov. The base was filled with a mixture of hi-tech equipment and crumbling Soviet-era infrastructure.

Vladimir Putin, then Russia’s president and now the prime minister, gave the order in August 2007 for the Russian air force to resume long-range bomber patrols — just like in the Cold War — after a lull of 15 years.

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This article was posted: Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 4:08 am





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