RUSSIA claims to have flown two of its Tu-95 "Bear" bombers near Alaska in a show of strength to the West.
The footage reportedly shows the noisy missile carriers flying over neutral waters in the Bering Sea accompanied by 30 Russian fighter jets – very close to US airspace.
The footage released by the Kremlin allegedly shows the Tu-95MS missile bombers on a Valentine’s Day mission in what appears to be a warning to the West amid Kremlin fury over supplies of weapons to Ukraine.
This comes after repeated threats made by Russian officials and propagandists on using nuclear weapons amid deepening East-West tensions surrounding the war in Ukraine.
However, even before Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine, the country had been stepping up its patrols near US airspace – increasing them by sixfold in recent years.
In the released images, the Russian aeroplanes can be seen preparing for takeoff from an undisclosed location at night.
One of the planes can then be seen taking to the skies before the other can also be seen taking off.
The footage then shows the view from inside the cockpit of one of the aircraft. Other shots also show the other plane, both of them apparently flying high above the clouds.
After a flight that is said to have lasted over seven hours, the aircraft can be seen coming in to land.
The images were obtained from the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Tuesday.
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Their statement claimed: "Two Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers of the Russian Aerospace Forces completed a planned flight over the neutral waters of the Bering Sea."
It continued: "Long-range aviation pilots regularly fly over the neutral waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Black and Baltic Seas."
"All flights of aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces are carried out in strict accordance with the International Rules for the Use of Airspace," added Moscow.
The claims and the footage of the Valentine's mission has not been able to be independently verified.
The Tu-95s are the world’s only propeller-powered strategic bombers.
The same type of planes – which date from the Soviet era – were hit at a base in Engels, Saratov region by a Ukrainian drone strike hundreds of miles inside the Russian border on December 5.
Two servicemen sustained wounds from the attack, according to reports.
The Soviet-era Tu-95s first flew some 70 years ago but remain a key part of Putin’s strike threat.
In recent days, NATO’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, has said that Russia has already launched its spring offensive and was “sending more troops, more weapons, more capabilities”.
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Stoltenberg, speaking ahead of a two-day NATO defence minister summit in Brussels, said that supplying aircraft to Ukraine would be discussed.
He also said that Ukraine was going through more ammunition than expected and that the war-torn country was using it faster than it could be supplied.
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