RUSSIAN STRATEGIC BOMBERS NEAR CANADA PRACTICE CRUISE MISSILE STRIKES ON US

In this photo released by the U.S. Navy, an F/A-18 Hornet from aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, escorts a Russian Tupolev 95 Bear long rang bomber aircraft on Feb. 9, 2008

by Bill Gertz

Two Russian strategic bombers conducted practice cruise missile attacks on the United States during a training mission last week that defense officials say appeared timed to the NATO summit in Wales.

The Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers were tracked flying a route across the northern Atlantic near Iceland, Greenland, and Canada’s northeast.

Analysis of the flight indicated the aircraft were conducting practice runs to a pre-determined “launch box”—an optimum point for firing nuclear-armed cruise missiles at U.S. targets, said defense officials familiar with intelligence reports.

Disclosure of the nuclear bombing practice comes as a Russian general last week called for Moscow to change its doctrine to include preemptive nuclear strikes on the United States and NATO.

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