Russia deployed two nuclear-capable Tu-95MS long-range bombers to international airspace near Alaska on Friday where they flew for hours.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced the bomber flights on Friday. The pair of Russian bombers took off and flew over the Chukchi and Bering Seas. The Chukchi Sea faces the northern coast of Alaska while the Bering Sea faces the western coast of Alaska. In all, the Russian bombers operated over those neutral waters for about 10 hours.
Video of the Russian bomber flights showed they received aerial refueling. At one point, the bombers were also escorted by Su-35s fighter jets.
It is unclear how close the Russian bombers came to Alaska or if the aircraft entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) — which typically discloses instances in which it responds to Russian military aircraft entering the ADIZ — has made no mention of this latest Russian bomber flight.
While Russia’s Ministry of Defense described the bomber deployment as a scheduled flight operation, the flights took off the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the western nations of provoking conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
In a Thursday meeting with Russia’s Foreign Ministry Board, Putin said western nations are “exacerbating the situation by supplying Kiev with modern lethal weapons, conducting provocative military exercises in the Black Sea and other regions close to our borders.”
Putin said western strategic bombers, “which carry very serious weapons,” have flown within about 12 miles of Russia’s borders along the Black Sea.
“Indeed, we constantly express our concerns about these matters and talk about red lines,” Putin said. “But of course, we understand that our partners are peculiar in the sense that they have a very – how to put it mildly – superficial approach to our warnings about red lines.”
Last month, Russia sent five military aircraft into the Alaskan ADIZ two days after its fighter jets tailed and intercepted a pair of U.S. B-1B Lancer bombers and KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea.
Russia frequently deploys strategic bombers and surveillance aircraft near Alaska. According to U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. David Krumm, the U.S. is intercepting more Russian operating near Alaska than it ever has before.
“We have certainly seen an increase in Russian activity,” Krumm said in an April interview with the New York Daily News. “We intercepted over 60 aircraft last year … We monitor more than that.”