There is nothing alarming about the flights of Russian long-range bombers in the Pacific, says Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of US Pacific Command. Keating told the Defense Writers Group on Jan. 28 that, to his knowledge, “the Russians are observing” international protocols established under the International Civil Aviation Organization for safety. “They are not necessarily telling us as far in advance as we would like” of an upcoming mission, but otherwise, he said he was not aware of anything disconcerting. Russian President Vladimir Putin reinstituted routine bomber flights over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in August 2007 after about 15 years of sending Russian Bear and Blackjack bombers out only during major exercises. “We are uncertain what the Russians are doing beyond flying,” Keating said of the flights, noting that their profiles mirror those of years past. “Why are they doing it? We think because they have the money,” the admiral said. “Putin has got cash. He is looking to reassert Russian military presence.” The pace of Russian flights has been “very flat” since the first of the year, Keating said. But indications are that it may pick up again and PACOM continues to monitor the situation “pretty carefully,” he said.