They did not enter US or Canadian sovereign territory, but two Russian bombers were intercepted off the coast of Alaska by US and Canadian fighter jets Thursday. The long-range, nuclear-capable Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers entered Alaskan and Canadian Air Defense Identification Zones, which extend about 200 miles off the western coast of Alaska, but remained in international airspace over the Beaufort Sea, according to a statement from the North American Aerospace Defense Command cited by CNN. NORAD also tweeted photos of the incident.
According to CNN, US military officials consider Russian bomber flights like this one both training efforts on Moscow's part as well as attempts to convey a message of strength, and they say Russian bombers and jets have been intercepted in the area a few times a year over the past several years. According to ABC, this is believed to be the fifth US intercept of Russian aircraft this year. Last week, NORAD identified two Russian maritime reconnaissance anti-submarine warfare aircraft entering the same zone. (Last month in South Korea, 360 warning shots were fired at a Russian plane.)