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Russian bomber jets practice taking out targets with cruise missiles in Arctic, just weeks after warning US to steer clear (VIDEO)

The Ministry of Defense in Moscow confirmed on Thursday that two of its bomber jets had conducted a series of staged drills in the Arctic region of the country, practicing firing off rockets and unleashing volleys from their guns.

The two long-range warplanes, a Tupolev Tu-160 hypersonic jet and a Tu-95ms missile platform, took off from an airfield near the central Russian city of Saratov, flying 4,000 kilometers north for the exercises.

A mock bombing run saw the planes strike simulated targets on the ground with air-launched cruise missiles. In a video released by military chiefs, a turret gunner is seen firing shells from a heavy cannon.

The move comes just one month after Moscow's diplomats hit out at plans for US and NATO fighter jets to undertake joint combat training in the Arctic region. The drills, they said, were “provocative,” and warned that they would have a profound impact on “confidence-building in Europe.”

READ MORE: Russia expresses anger about US-led NATO wargames over frozen Arctic, says ‘provocative’ aerial combat simulations challenge peace 

The envoys have also argued that the actions flew in the face of international commitments to “ensuring the sustainable and peaceful development of the Arctic region.”

In May, Russia opened a state-of-the-art Arctic military base, designed to extend Moscow’s potential reach across the region and to act as a potential landing strip for heavy, nuclear-capable bombers. Located in the Franz Josef Land archipelago, its construction comes as part of plans to strengthen the country’s northern frontier.

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