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Russia scrambles fighter jets to head off American warplanes near country’s airspace, days after warship intercepted near borders

The Russian Air Force has escorted two US bombers over the Black Sea, after radar operators identified the planes flying close to the border, just days after an American warship was tailed as it moved toward the country’s waters.

On Wednesday, Moscow’s Ministry of Defense said that a pair of the country’s Su-30 fighter planes took off and followed two US B-1B strategic bombers over southeastern Europe, after the foreign aircraft were detected in the region.

“Russian fighter crews identified the aerial targets as two US Air Force supersonic strategic B-1B bombers, accompanied by two KC-135 refueling planes, and escorted them over the waters of the Black Sea,” the ministry said in a statement. “After the foreign warplanes had been turned away from Russia’s state border, the Russian fighters safely returned to their home air base.”

A video also published by the ministry shows one of the bombers tethered to a refueling plane in mid-flight. It is reported that the US bombers did not violate the border, and the Russian planes carried out the escort in compliance with international airspace regulations.

This is not the first time in recent weeks that the US has ordered its warplanes to fly close to the Russian border, prompting a response from Moscow’s forces. On Sunday, one of Russia’s MiG-31 jets was deployed to escort another US military B-1B bomber over the Sea of Japan.

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On Friday, Russian sailors were scrambled to head off the American missile-armed destroyer USS Chafee as it appeared ready to cross the country’s maritime borders in waters closed off for military exercises. The incident echoed a similar row that took place last November, after the USS John McCain crossed into the waters of the Peter the Great Bay in what American commanders described as a “Freedom of Navigation Operation.” The McCain was warned by the Udaloy-class destroyer ‘Admiral Vinogradov’, with the crew threatening to ram it by force if it refused to turn around.

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