Dramatic moment Russian SU-35 fighter jet intercepts two US B-52 nuclear bombers over Baltic Sea days after downing of American Reaper drone
- Russia said it detected ‘two air targets’ flying towards Russian air space
- Incident came as Russia flew two of its own nuclear bombers over Sea of Japan
This is the dramatic moment a Russian fighter jet intercepted a pair of US nuclear bombers over the Baltic Sea, just days after an American drone was downed.
Russia’s defence ministry said a single Su-35 was scrambled to meet the B-52 strategic bombers that were flying in the direction of the Russian border on Monday, but that it returned to base after they moved away.
The development came as Moscow said it had flown two of its own nuclear bombers over the Sea of Japan for more than seven hours, in a statement released as Japan’s prime minister was beginning a surprise visit to Ukraine.
The Tupolev Tu-95MS planes are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and Moscow regularly flies them over international waters in the Arctic, North Atlantic and Pacific as a show of strength.
It also followed the March 14 crash of a US military surveillance drone into the Black Sea after it was intercepted by Russian jets, in the first known direct military encounter between Russia and the US since Russia invaded Ukraine.
A Russian fighter jet has been scrambled over the Baltic Sea to intercept a pair of US nuclear bombers, just days after an American drone was downed
‘On March 20, radar facilities of the air defence forces of the Western military district on duty over the Baltic Sea detected two air targets flying in the direction of the Russian Federation’s state border,’ the ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.
It said the targets were US Air Force B52H strategic bombers.
Dramatic footage, purportedly captured from the Su-35, appeared to confirm this on Tuesday. In the video captured from a close-range, it showed one of the two American aircraft soaring above the clouds.
Earlier, the two US planes were seen being escorted by Polish fighter jets.
Russia said a Su-35 fighter jet took to the air in order to prevent a border violation, and added, ‘after the foreign military aircraft moved away from the Russian Federation state border, the Russian fighter returned to its base airfield.’
The ministry said the Su-35’s flight was strictly in line with international rules of the use of airspace. ‘No violation of the state border of the Russian Federation was permitted,’ it said.
Tensions between Washington and Moscow are at their highest since the Cold War as Vladimir Putin continues his illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine has been robustly supported by the US and its NATO allies, with Russia accusing America of fighting a proxy war in Ukraine.
The incident involving the Su-35 and B-52s comes a week after two Russian fighter jets brought down a US reaper drone over the Black Sea by dumping fuel on it.
The US criticised Russia for the incident over international waters, while Moscow worked to recover the wreckage from the sea.
Meanwhile, Russia also said on Tuesday that it had flown two of its own strategic nuclear bombers – nuclear-capable Tu-95MS ‘Bears’ – over the Sea of Japan.
The timing of the latest flight appeared more pointed than usual, as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was due in Kyiv later on a visit to show solidarity with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the war against Russia.
Japanese national broadcaster NHK showed Kishida boarding a train at the Polish town of Przemysl near the Ukraine border.
Russia said the strategic bombers made a ‘planned flight’, escorted by fighter planes. It was carried out in strict compliance with international law and was made over neutral waters, the defence ministry said.
In February, North American air defence forces were sent to intercept several Russian strategic bombers and fighter jets as they flew over international airspace near Alaska.
Japan, which has its own territorial dispute with Moscow over islands in the north Pacific that dates back to the end of World War Two, is a key Asian ally of the United States and a member of the Group of Seven rich democracies, and has joined Western sanctions against Russia.
Kishida’s trip to Ukraine also coincides with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Moscow.