UK jets intercept Russian aircraft near British airspace

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UK: Russian military planes were flying in international waters near Cornwall

Russian aircraft didn't cross into British airspace, UK Defence Ministry says

CNN  — 

Two UK Royal Air Force jets intercepted a pair of Russian aircraft flying near British airspace this week, the British Defence Ministry said Thursday, marking the latest in what NATO has said is an increase in Russian military flights near alliance members’ territory.

The British Typhoon jets intercepted the Russian aircraft Wednesday over international waters near Cornwall, in southwestern England, a ministry representative said Thursday.

A Russian Bear aircraft is escorted by a Royal Air Force Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon during an intercept in September 2014. Royal Air Force aircraft at RAF Lossiemouth launched the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) for the first time since the Moray base took on the role of defending the UK's Northern airspace. Typhoon jets were scrambled to identify aircraft in international airspace. The aircraft, identified as Russian military 'Bears', did not enter UK airspace.
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“The Russian planes were escorted by the RAF until they were out of the UK area of interest. At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace,” the representative said.

The Defence Ministry didn’t specify what type of aircraft the Russians were flying.

In November, NATO said its members’ jets had been scrambled more than 400 times in 2014 to intercept Russian military flights close to members’ territories – a 50% increase over the previous year.

The increase harkens back to the days of the Cold War, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said November 20 during a visit to NATO member Estonia.

In a November report, the European Leadership Network listed more than 40 “close military encounters between Russia and the West” in the eight months from March to October.

Three of those – including a near collision between a Russian military plane and a Swedish passenger aircraft carrying 132 people – were classified as “high-risk” incidents that could have led to direct military confrontation between Russia and the West, according to the report, titled “Dangerous Brinksmanship.”

UK jets intercepted more than 100 Russian aircraft last year, according to the British Defence Ministry.