Moscow says Japanese fighter jets intercepted pair of nuclear-capable Russian bombers during planned flight over Sea of Japan

Two Russian Tu-95MS bombers have been escorted by Japanese fighter jets during a routine military exercise over the Sea of Japan, Russia’s Ministry of Defence has said. The nuclear-capable planes were flying over neutral waters.

The bombers were cruising above the Sea of Japan (also known as the East Sea in Russia) and the northwestern Pacific Ocean, as part of a pre-planned military drill. 

“The flight duration was more than seven hours. At some stages of the route, Russian aircraft were accompanied by Japanese Air Force fighters,” the Defense Ministry, in Moscow, said on Wednesday.

Russian long-range strategic bombers regularly fly over the neutral waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, Black and Baltic Seas, and the Pacific Ocean. Commenting on the interception, the ministry stressed that Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft operate in strict accordance with international rules governing airspace. 

It’s not uncommon for Japanese fighters to shadow Russian warplanes. In the twelve months to the end of June last year, Japan’s Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) scrambled its jets 268 times to intercept Russian military aircraft.

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