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Kremlin accuses U.S. of stoking tensions by flying bombers near its borders

March 21, 2019 at 3:31pm

The Kremlin on Thursday complained that flights by U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 strategic bombers across the Baltic Sea’s neutral waters near Russia’s borders were creating tensions in the region.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said earlier on Thursday that it had scrambled two Sukhoi SU-27 fighter jets to intercept a U.S. B-52 strategic bomber which radar systems indicated was flying towards Russia’s borders, albeit at a considerable distance.

The ministry said the fighter jets had returned to base after the B-52 changed course and headed in the opposite direction. It did not say when the incident occurred.

“In general, I will limit myself to only saying that of course such actions by the United States do not lead to a strengthening of an atmosphere of security and stability in the region that directly adjoins Russia’s borders,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

“On the contrary, they create additional tensions.”

Russian media reported that a B-52 bomber was spotted close to the border with Russia’s European exclave of Kaliningrad and the Leningrad region on Monday. At one point, the RBC news portal reported, the U.S. plane, which had flown from Britain, was less than 200 km (124 miles) from St Petersburg.

Another B-52 was spotted in the Baltic region on March 16, it added.

Such flights, seen as a show of force designed to test response times and intimidate and deter, are also carried out by Russia. Moscow sends its own nuclear-capable strategic bombers on similar missions, which NATO jets intercept in the same way.

(Reuters)