Russia says it sent a fighter jet to intercept two US B-1B bombers flying over the Baltic Sea in international airspace.

A B-1B Lancer strategic bomber takes off from Ellsworth Air Force Base, in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, in this U.S. Air Force handout photo dated March 27, 2011. This mission marked the first time the B-1 fleet has launched combat sorties from the continental United States to strike targets overseas. Picture taken March 27, 2011. REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Marc I. Lane/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY CONFLICT POLITICS) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
A B-1B Lancer strategic bomber takes off from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, in US [File: US Air Force/Marc I. Lane via Reuters)

Published On 24 May 2023

Russia said it scrambled an Su-27 fighter jet to “prevent violations of the state border” by two United States Air Force strategic bombers flying over the Baltic Sea.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the military had prevented any border violation by the US planes and “the flight of the Russian fighter was carried out in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace”.

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“After removing the foreign military aircraft from the Russian state border, the Russian fighter went back to its air base,” the defence ministry said.

“The crew of the Russian fighter classified the aerial targets as two US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers,” it said.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder confirmed on Tuesday that US aircraft were intercepted by Russia, saying the B-1 bombers were taking part in a planned exercise in Europe and the Russian fighter’s interaction with the US planes was “safe and professional”.

“So we do have two B-1 bombers that are part of a bomber task force… that we fly regularly around the world in various countries. This is a long-planned exercise in Europe and my understanding is that it was a safe and professional interaction with Russian aircraft. So nothing significant to report on that front,” he told reporters.

The Russian interception of the US bombers is the latest in a series of aerial interactions involving Russian, US and NATO military aircraft amid tension in relations following Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

In March, a US surveillance drone crashed into the Black Sea after it was intercepted by Russian jets in international airspace. Video

Video Duration 00 minutes 45 seconds00:45US releases video of drone incident with Russian fighter jets

The US military said it was forced to ditch the MQ-9 Reaper drone in the sea after one of the Russian jets struck the drone’s propeller.