Russian planes to patrol in Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico

  • Published
Russian Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bomber refuelling over an unknown location during a military exerciseImage source, Reuters

Russia has said its air force will conduct regular air patrols from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Russia had wound down such long-range missions after the end of the Cold War.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said there was a plan to provide long-range aviation maintenance for the flights.

Amid renewed tensions over Ukraine, Western analysts say Russia has been returning to methods used to test Nato defences during the Cold War.

On Wednesday, Mr Shoigu said "long-range aviation units" would fly along the borders of the Russian Federation and over the waters of the Arctic Ocean.

He added: "Under the prevailing circumstances we need to ensure a military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans, the waters of the Caribbean basin and the Gulf of Mexico."

He also said he had approved "an action plan to improve the condition of our long-range aviation technology, which provides for its repair and servicing at industrial facilities".

Close encounters

Earlier this year, Mr Shoigu said Russia was planning military bases in a number of foreign countries, including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Negotiations included the option for Russian strategic bombers to refuel whilst on patrol, he said.

Mr Shoigu's latest comments came as Nato said it had observed columns of Russian military equipment entering eastern Ukraine, a claim that was dismissed by the Russian defence ministry.

Tensions between Russia and Nato members have risen over the Ukraine crisis.

Nato has recently reported "unusual" increases in Russian military aircraft conducting manoeuvres over European airspace.

The European Leadership Network, a London-based think tank, chronicled almost 40 specific close military encounters between Russia and the West over the past eight months.

They included violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided mid-air collisions and close encounters at sea.