Russian bombers intercepted by NORAD near Alaska

(Reuters) – Several Russian strategic bombers and fighter jets have been intercepted by North American air defense forces as they flew over international airspace near Alaska, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said, in routine incidents unrelated to the tensions over had to do with the war in Ukraine.

The planes identified Monday had not entered U.S. or Canadian airspace and posed no threat, the joint U.S.-Canadian center said in a statement Feb. 14.

It added that the Russian flights are in no way connected to the mysterious spate of flying objects shot down by the US military over North America in recent weeks, the details of which remain unknown.

“NORAD anticipated this Russian activity… Two NORAD F-16 fighters intercepted the Russian plane,” it said.

The United States also frequently conducts surveillance operations that do not invade other countries’ airspace, and such flights are a common part of military operations.

“NORAD routinely monitors foreign aircraft movements and will escort them if necessary,” the statement added.

Russia said on Wednesday it had conducted several flights over international waters in the past few days, including in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia.

Two of its Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers, escorted by Su-30 jets, flew over the Bering Sea and conducted similar “routine flights” north of Norway and over international waters near far eastern Russia.

It did not say if its planes had been intercepted.

“Long-range aviation pilots regularly conduct flights over the neutral waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, Black Sea, Baltic Sea and Pacific,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

North American security forces have been on high alert since a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon flew into US airspace, prompting the United States to shoot down it and other objects as it scoured the sky.

While Russia has previously operated flights over the Bering Sea, its neighbors in the region have become more concerned about Moscow’s military activities since its invasion of Ukraine last year.

Two Dutch F-35 fighter jets intercepted and escorted a formation of three Russian military planes near Poland, the Dutch Defense Ministry said in a statement late Monday.

NATO member states have also intensified their military exercises in the Arctic in recent years as Russia has expanded and renewed its military infrastructure in the region.

(Reporting by Caleb Davis; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Kevin Liffey and Deepa Babington)


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