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Russian TU-95 MS bombers and missile carriers above the Kremlin, during the rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade at the Red Square in Moscow, in May 2015.
Maxim Shipenkov—EPA

In a scene straight out of a bizarro Top Gun sequel, Russian bomber pilots tried their hand at keeping up foreign relations when they flew just 40 miles from the California coast earlier this month.

When intercepted by U.S. fighter jets, the Russian pilots delivered the following message, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command: “Good morning, American pilots. We are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day.” The bombers later retreated before entering U.S. airspace.

Though a NORAD spokesman stopped short of declaring the move a threat, he did call it “potentially destabilizing,” because the Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers have nuclear capabilities and had not previously announced their intent to fly so close to U.S. soil. That same day, Russian president Vladimir Putin sent congratulations to President Obama on the celebration of America’s independence.


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