Russia has resumed long-range patrols by strategic bombers that can drop nuclear weapons on U.S. targets. Such tours of duty will be conducted regularly and on a strategic scale, said President Vladimir Putin. Our pilots have been grounded for too long. They are happy to start a new life. Russia had stopped sending bomber patrols over the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans shortly after the Soviet Union dissolved, in 1991. But Putin, who is taking an increasingly aggressive stance toward the West, said NATO and the U.S. had not reciprocated, and that security concerns required a more active Russian military. The U.S. downplayed the news. If Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again, thats their decision, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. Soon, though, newer jets could join the patrols. Putin has ordered new production of strategic nuclear bombers.