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Adm. Cecil Haney, head of US Strategic Command, told a Capitol Hill audience on June 18 Russia has increased activity related to "exercising and demonstrating" its strategic nuclear forces since the crisis in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of the Crimea. He noted that Russia made a deliberate choice to begin a long modernization program for its strategic nuclear forces, and on May 8, carried out a major exercise that featured an ICBM test, aircraft and air defense drills, and the validating of command and control procedures as directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. There have also been "significant Russian aircraft deployments" near Japan and South Korea, and long-range bombers have flown sorties in international airspace near the west coast of the continental United States, said Haney at the AFA-sponsored event. Putin has declared that modernization of Russian strategic forces is a priority, said Haney, and there have been press reports on recent sea trials of Russia's newest sea-launched ballistic missile as well as tests of both mobile and air-launched cruise missiles. Thus far, Russia is adhering to its obligations under the US-Russia New START agreement, specifically the treaty's "notification and access" measures, he noted.