(Newsroom America) -- Russian nuclear-capable bombers were intercepted near the U.S. west coast for the second time in as many weeks over the July 4th holiday, a report said Friday.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that the intruding planes were again met by U.S. air defense fighters, and that the Russian planes came close to the Pacific coast 12-mile exclusion zone but did not cross it.
The earlier intrusion off the coast of Alaska by two Tu-95 Bear H bombers took place during Arctic war games that a Russian military spokesman said involved simulated attacks on "enemy" air defenses and strategic targets.
"The bomber flights near the Pacific and earlier flights near Alaska appear to be signs Moscow is practicing the targeting of its long-range air-launched cruise missiles on two strategic missile defense sites, one at Fort Greely, Alaska and a second site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.," the Free Beacon reported.
The drills, along with comments made recently by Russian military commanders, sound an ominous tone, some defense analysts believe.
In May, Russian Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the Russian General Staff, said during a conference in Moscow that because missile defense systems were destabilizing, "A decision on pre-emptive use of the attack weapons available will be made when the situation worsens."
The comment served as a backdrop against Russian opposition to a planned U.S. missile defense shield in eastern Europe, which Moscow opposes. The U.S. and participating European nations say the shield is aimed at intercepting potential long-range nuclear launches by Iran.
The Beacon quoted an unnamed senior defense official as describing the most recent Russian bomber incursion as "(Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s Fourth of July Bear greeting to Obama."
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a former Alaska commander for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, told the publication the incursions appear to be aimed testing U.S. resolve.
"It’s becoming very obvious that Putin is testing Obama and his national security team,” McInerney told the publication. "These long-range aviation excursions are duplicating exercises I experienced during the height of the Cold War when I command the Alaska NORAD region."
He added: "These are not good indications of future U.S. Russian relations."
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