Cold War Shivers: British Jets Shadow a Russian Bomber

Two Royal Air Force jets shadowed a Russian strategic bomber that approached British airspace, Britain’s Defense Ministry said.

The incident occurred Friday, the same day that President Vladimir Putin placed strategic bombers back on long-range patrol for the first time since the Soviet breakup.

Britain’s Defense Ministry issued two photographs Tuesday on its web site showing one of the two British Typhoon F2s flying near the Tu-95 strategic bomber over the northern Atlantic Ocean.

The ministry provided few details about where and why this happened, but the Tu-95 apparently was in international airspace and approaching Britain’s skies when it was shadowed.

Air Force spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky said Wednesday that the pilots had not “invaded anyone else’s airspace, and there was nothing aggressive in their action,” RIA-Novosti reported.

Drobyshevsky said the Air Force routinely notifies foreign officials in advance of long-range patrol flights. “There is no saber rattling,” he said.

Menzies Campbell, leader of Britain’s opposition Liberal Democrats, expressed concern about the photos on the web site. “These pictures convey disturbing echoes of the Cold War,” he said in a statement.

Last month, two Russian bombers briefly entered British airspace but turned back after British fighter jets intercepted them. On Friday, Putin announced that 20 strategic bombers had been sent far over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans — showing off Moscow’s muscular new posture.

Eleven Russian military planes, including strategic bombers and fighter jets, carried out maneuvers west of NATO member Norway on Friday, the Norwegian military said. Norway sent F-16 fighter jets to observe and photograph the Russian planes.

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