Skip to main content

Dutch fighter jets intercept 2 Russian bombers in their airspace

By Lindsay Isaac and Greg Botelho, CNN
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 2233 GMT (0633 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dutch spokesman: 2 Russian bombers enter Dutch airspace by a half mile
  • 2 F-16 Dutch fighter jets intercept the Russian planes, escort them away
  • British military jets later become involved; action is called "not unusual"
  • But it comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and NATO

(CNN) -- Dutch fighter jets scrambled Wednesday to intercept a pair of Russian military aircraft that entered their airspace, a fairly routine action that comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and NATO, a Dutch official said.

Maj. Wilko Ter Horst said that the military learned around 3:50 p.m. (9:50 a.m. ET) that two Russian TU-95 bombers, known as Bears, had come a half-mile inside its airspace.

A pair of Dutch F-16 military jets were then dispatched to escort the Russian planes and "ensure they (flew) out of our airspace," said Ter Horst, a Dutch military spokesman.

Such a sequence of events isn't uncommon, with the Netherlands military spokesman explaining "this is a national procedure when aircraft infringe (on) national Dutch airspace." He estimated Dutch fighter jets scramble to check out unknown aircraft -- be they from Russia or another country -- about four or five times a year.

NATO: Pics show Russian military buildup
NATO military chief's warning

"It is not unusual," Ter Horst added. "Sometimes they cross Dutch airspace and sometimes they stay north of Dutch airspace (in the country's so-called area of responsibility)."

In this case, British military aircraft took over from the Dutch in escorting the Russian planes.

A British Defense Ministry spokesman said that planes from his military left from Royal Air Force station Leuchars "to determine the identity of unknown aircraft that approached the NATO Air Policing Area north of Scotland and could not be identified by other means."

These planes were later identified as the Russian military planes. The spokesman stressed that they didn't enter British airspace, nor has any Russian military plane ever done so.

"The Russian military aircraft remained in international airspace at all times, as they are perfectly entitled to do," the spokesman said.

In a separate and "standard" event, Britain's HMS Dragon met up with the Russian ship Vice Admiral Kulakov as it was "transiting past the UK," according to the military spokesman. The British naval destroyer is now "keeping an eye on its transit south," he added.

There was no immediate mention of this story on the English-language versions of at least two Russian state-run media outlets, RT and RIA Novosti.

While British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said his military is always on alert "to intercept any non-NATO forces," he did not portray these specific incidents as alarming.

"Recent events have increased awareness of Russian military activity," Hammond said. "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.'"

Both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are part of NATO, which has been increasingly at odds with Russia over its activity in and around Ukraine.

The tensions ratcheted up late last year, when demonstrators pushed out Ukraine's president in part due to their anger about his moving away from an alliance with Europe and moving closer to Russia.

A pro-Western government took over in Kiev. Soon after, the Crimean peninsula seceded from Ukraine and became part of Russia.

Since then, Russia has deployed what NATO estimates to be 40,000 troops near its border with Ukraine, which has made other countries in the area nervous.

In an interview Wednesday with RT, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia would "certainly respond" if its interests were attacked in Ukraine.

"Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation," Lavrov said.

Dutch fighter jets intercept cargo plane

Fighter jets, special forces: Photos 'show Russian military buildup' near Ukraine

Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT