Russia’s military says it plans to expand regular patrol missions by its long-range bombers to the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
“We have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a Wednesday statement.
The flights would bring the Russian bombers close to the United States’ northern territorial waters.
Shoigu stressed that the long-range Russian bombers will continue flights “along Russian borders and over the Arctic Ocean.”
“In many respects, this is connected with the situation in Ukraine, with fomentation of anti-Russian moods on the part of NATO and reinforcement of foreign military presence next to our border,” Shoigu said.
He added that Russia needs to beef up its military forces in Crimea due to the tensions with the West over Ukraine.
“Under these conditions, the formation of a full-fledged and self-sufficient inter-branch grouping of forces on the Crimean peninsula is a priority task,” the Russian defense minister said.
Tensions between Russia and the West have intensified over the past few months as a result of the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine.
The United States and its European allies have accused Russia of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty by stirring up pro-Russia protests in eastern Ukraine, which followed a March 16 referendum in Crimea where the majority of voters said yes to joining the Russian Federation. Russia has denied the allegation, saying the protests began spontaneously.
A recent NATO report said that Russia has increased its military flights over the Black, Baltic and North seas as well as the Atlantic Ocean.