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US Disputes Russia's Claim of Intercepted Military Flights

The U.S. military is disputing a Russian general's claim that American fighter planes intercepted Russian aircraft over the Pacific, near a U.S. military base.

A military spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii says Thursday U.S. forces were prepared to intercept two Russian TU-95 bombers flying toward the island of Guam this week, but that no such action took place.

The American spokesman says Russian aircraft never came close enough to a U.S. Navy ship or to Guam to warrant an interception. U.S. radar monitored the Russian bombers, but the spokesman says the American and Russian aircraft were not close enough to see each other.

Earlier Thursday, a senior Russian air force official Major-General Pavel Androsov, said the Russian exercise marked a resumption of long-distance military flights to areas patrolled by NATO and the United States. Moscow had suspended such exercises since the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

Androsov, who is Russia's long-range military aviation chief, said the Russian bomber crews "exchanged smiles" with American fighter pilots who flew to intercept them.