Before Obama Visited Canada, Russian Bomber Did

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2009 2:42 PM CST
A Russian Tupolev-160 warplane was headed toward Canadian airspace ahead of President Obama's Feb. 19 visit to Ottawa. Canadian jets scrambled to meet the bomber, which turned back.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – On the day before President Obama’s recent visit to Canada, that nation’s warplanes turned back a Russian bomber, the National Post reports. The plane did not enter Canadian airspace, but the incident still alarmed officials, who have striven to enforce sovereignty. “When we see a Russian bear approaching Canadian air space, we meet them with an F-18,” said Defense Minister Peter MacKay.

A day after the Feb. 18 incident, Ottawa’s airspace was closed off to all traffic save Air Force One. The Russian jet was spotted by the US and Canada’s joint air-defense command, and fighter jets scrambled to intercept. A Russian official said the flight was planned; rejoined MacKay, “It was a strong coincidence, which we met.”