In Brief

RAF fighter jets scrambled to intercept Russian warplanes

Typhoon fighter jets sent to investigate Russian long-range bombers approaching UK airspace

THE RAF scrambled Typhoon fighter jets to intercept two Russian warplanes seen approaching UK airspace yesterday, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The fighters, based at Leuchars in Fife, were sent to meet two Tupolev Tu-95s long-range bombers spotted off the north coast of Scotland.

Despite increased tensions between Russia and Nato over Ukraine, the incident is believed to be a routine encounter. The Russian airforce tests Britain's responses every few months, The Guardian explains.

A spokesman for the MoD says that the planes were launched to "determine the identity of unknown aircraft" that "could not be identified by other means".

He adds: "The aircraft were subsequently identified as Russian military aircraft. The Russian military aircraft remained in international airspace at all times as they are perfectly entitled to do so. Russian military flights have never entered UK sovereign airspace without authorisation."

Meanwhile a British warship is shadowing a Russian destroyer as it travels past the UK. HMS Dragon is maintaining routine checks on the Russian warship, Vice Admiral Kulakov in international waters north of Scotland, the BBC reports.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, says: "Recent events have increased awareness of Russian military activity, but we have always routinely intercepted, identified and escorted Russian air and naval assets that transit international airspace and waters within the UK's 'area of interest'."

In eastern Europe, tensions continue to escalate. This morning, the first contingent of US soldiers arrived in Poland to conduct joint training exercises with the Polish military in what the White House described as a sign of US loyalty to Nato alliance members.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said: "It's a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in Europe, and the message is to the people of those countries and to the alliance that we do take it seriously."

Nato is exploring additional measures the alliance may take in response to suspected Russian involvement in events unfolding in eastern Ukraine, CNN reports.

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