RIA Novosti 
Friday, Nov 21, 2008
A pair of Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers took off on Friday from the Engels airbase in southern Russia on a routine patrol flight over the Arctic Ocean, an Air Force spokesman said.
Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans in August 2007, following an order signed by then-president Vladimir Putin.
“Two Tu-95 bombers have started a regular nine-hour patrol flight over remote areas of the Arctic,” Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik told RIA Novosti.
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Drik said that all flights by Russian aircraft are performed in strict compliance with international law on the use of airspace over neutral waters, without violating the borders of other states.
Although it was common practice during the Cold War for both the U.S. and the Soviet Union to keep nuclear strategic bombers permanently airborne, the Kremlin cut long-range patrols in 1992.
Last year’s resumption of long-range patrols was widely seen as a sign of Russia’s drive to assert itself both militarily and politically.
Air Force commander, Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said in April this year that Russia would substantially increase the number of strategic patrol flights over the world’s oceans to 20-30 a month.