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13 Nov, 2014 00:47

Russia to expand aviation patrol mission to Gulf of Mexico – defense minister

Russia to expand aviation patrol mission to Gulf of Mexico – defense minister

Russia plans to expand its air patrol missions of long-range aircrafts to cover the Gulf of Mexico, the country’s defense minister, Sergey Shoigu, says. He added that military training will include flights along the Russian border and the Arctic Ocean.

READ MORE: Russian army beefs up Artic presence over Western threat

“In the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico,” Shoigu said on Wednesday.

As part of the military training, long-range aircrafts will also fly along the Russian border and over the Arctic Ocean, the defense minister said.

This kind of expansion relies on the serviceability of aircrafts, Shoigu noted. “I approved a plan to improve the state of long-range aircrafts, including repair and serviceability.”

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at an unveiling ceremony for a memorial to long-range pilots in Devichye Polye Park in Moscow.(RIA Novosti / Valeriy Melnikov)

The news follows an announcement at the end of October that Russia will be completing a network of radar stations in the Arctic by next year.

“The plan involves the building of 13 airfields, one land test range for the Air Forces, 10 radar sites and direction centers,” said Lt. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the National Defense Control Center.

Shoigu added during the announcement that Russia will continue upgrading its foreign military bases as well.

Russia’s plans come as NATO has stepped up its activities near the Russian border, including in the Black Sea and Baltic waters.

NATO has conducted five military exercises near the Russian border over the past six months, according to the head of the ministry’s Department of International Cooperation, Sergey Koshelev.

READ MORE: NATO’s Estonia drills are anti-Russian, don’t make Europe more secure – Moscow

The latest example is NATO’s so-called Trident Juncture exercise in Estonia, which started on November 9 and will run until November 17.

On top of the increased military activity, NATO asked the Pentagon a week ago to send more troops to Eastern Europe to counter the perceived Russian threat.

There are currently 750 US soldiers in Poland and the Baltic states, which the organization believes is not enough.