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Russian subs spotted off U.S. coast

President Dmitry Medvedev (C) with Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov (R) visits the 'St. George the Victor' nuclear powered submarine at the Russian Pacific Fleet submarine base at Krasheninnikov Harbor on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East on September 25, 2008. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov)
President Dmitry Medvedev (C) with Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov (R) visits the 'St. George the Victor' nuclear powered submarine at the Russian Pacific Fleet submarine base at Krasheninnikov Harbor on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East on September 25, 2008. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Two Russian attack submarines spotted off the Atlantic coast over the past several days have worried U.S. officials, the U.S. Defense Department says.

The New York Times reported one of the two nuclear-powered submarines was 200 miles off the East Coast in international waters Tuesday. A senior Defense Department official said the other submarine had headed to a Cuban port.

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"I don't think [the Russians] have put two first-line nuclear subs off the U.S. coast in about 15 years," Norman Polmar, a submarine warfare expert and naval historian, told the Times.

The newspaper reported the Russian submarine presence comes as Moscow attempts to put behind it last month's failed long-range Bulava missile test.

"It's the military trying to demonstrate that it is still a player in Russian political and economic matters," Polmar said.

Defense Department officials would not speak on what weapons they believe the submarines could be carrying.

The mere presence of the subs just outside U.S. territorial water makes officials wonder about Moscow's purpose.

"Any time the Russian Navy does something so out-of-the-ordinary, it is cause for worry," said a senior Defense Department official who has been monitoring reports on the subs' activities.

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