Four Russian bombers are now on a 24-hour patrol over the Arctic Ocean. The Tu-95MS strategic bombers took off from a far east Russian airfield and will refuel in flight after 12 hours.
Russian Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev confirmed the flights on Friday with the nation’s state-run news agency, RIA.
The Arctic territories hold large amounts of oil and natural gas. The country that can cement its claim to the disputed territories will control its resources, which may be why the nation reactivated its Kotelny Island airfield in December. The military asset had been officially closed or 20 years, although its infrastructure was kept in place.
Besides being powerless to stop the patrols, the international community will watch as Ukraine’s Crimea region votes Sunday on whether or not to secede and join Russia. If the vote goes Vladimir Putin’s way, millions would back secession and open the door for complete annexation by Russia.