TEHRAN, April 22, YJC - American Air Force officials said they have spotted Russian military aircraft flying in international airspace off the coast of Alaska for four times in as many days this week.
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -
The most recent incidents occurred late Wednesday and on Thursday, according to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
The first flight involved two IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft and the second involved two Tu-95 nuclear-capable Bear bombers, which were flying around the north coast of Alaska and Canada, said a NORAD spokeswoman, Mary Ann Clemons on Friday.
An interaction, which according to a US military official was "safe and professional," occurred on Monday, when a US F-22 fighter jet (pictured below) intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace 100 miles from Kodiak Island, Alaska.
The incident was followed by another flight less than 24 hours later, when another US surveillance aircraft intercepted two Russian bombers in the same area.
Clemons confirmed that Russian bombers never entered US airspace, but US and Canadian jets were dispatched to intercept them during Thursday's encounter.
The Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone, which primarily surrounds the US and Canada, is a designated region of international airspace. The region is a buffer being used to allow for the identification of aircraft heading towards North America.
Thus the recent flights pose no real military threat to the US and "are carried out in strict compliance with international regulations and with respect to national borders," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a written statement.
However, flights of this nature that have not been conducted by Russia, since 2015, have raised concerns among American military officials. One US official told CNN that there is "no other way to interpret this other than as strategic messaging."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer also reacted to the flights on Friday, saying that "we are aware of it. This is not highly unusual ... but we monitor everything."
John Cornelio, a NORAD spokesman said, "We haven't seen this sort of level of activity for a couple of years," but described them as not "unprecedented" or "unusual."
The US itself has carried out similar flights along the Russian and Chinese coasts. It has also dispatched a strike group, including an aircraft carrier, to the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. The deployment prompted Russia and China to dispatch intelligence gathering vessels, to chase the US naval task force away from the peninsula, Presstv reported.
Tensions between Washington and Moscow have also escalated over disagreements the two have had over the crisis in Syria. Their deeply rooted differences, has caused their relations to hit "an all time low,” this month, according to US President Donald Trump.
During his presidential campaign, Trump, who had been eager to improve relations with Moscow and expressed confidence that how well he and Russian President Vladimir Putin would get along, said last week that Washington is "not getting along with Russia at all.”
Putin also previously acknowledged that the ties between Washington and Moscow had "worsened."