Russian Jets Intercept US Bombers Over Baltic For 2nd Time In Days
Russia on Thursday announced it had scrambled fighter jets to intercept two inbound US strategic bomber planes in order to prevent them from "violating the state border" over the Baltic Sea.
It marks the second such dangerous intercept incident in merely three days. While such incidents over the Black and Baltic seas are not uncommon, it is unusual for more than one encounter to be reported within only a matter of days, suggesting the two super powers are increasingly bumping up against each other in the region amid the unpredictable backdrop of the Ukraine war.
Russia's military described that an Su-27 fighter jet alongside an Su-35 were deployed in response to identifying "the air targets as two US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers".
"The violation of the state border was prevented," the defense ministry said - and after the US bombers were turned back the Russian jets "returned safely to their air base." It said that the intercept flight was "carried out in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace."
In addition to this week's intercepts of US planes, other Western aircraft, including French and German surveillance planes, were shadowed by Russian jets in recent weeks.
Tuesday saw a similar incident play out, also involving a pair of US bombers. But the Pentagon downplayed it as "nothing significant".
The National Defense Control Center of the Russian Federation had the described of Tuesday's incident, "The crew of the Russian fighter classified the air targets as two US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers and occupied the established air watch zone."
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder had additionally confirmed it: "My understanding is that it was a safe and professional interaction with Russian aircraft. So nothing significant to report on that front," he said in a prior briefing.
The US could be back to probing Russia's aerial defense perimeter following a mid-March incident which saw a US MQ-9 drone crash into the Black Sea.
Video of the mid-March incident...
BREAKING: U.S. military releases dramatic declassified video taken by MQ-9 Reaper drone that shows the moment that a Russian Su-27 fighter jet collided with it after attempting to spray the drone with jet fuel. https://t.co/XGoVQN7ppJ pic.twitter.com/X9vH6qtFGf— ABC News (@ABC) March 16, 2023
The US Department of Defense later published a short video of a Russian fighter jet performing an unsafe maneuver while dumping jet fuel on the drone, damaging it and ultimately causing it to crash. The US had said it would temporarily pull back how close its aircraft patrol near Russia's borders.