Dramatic footage shows the moment the RAF escorted two Russian bombers intercepted off northern Britain amid rising tensions in Ukraine.
Typhoons have been launched from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, to monitor the fighter jets as fears mount that Vladimir Putin will invade the eastern European nation.
The incident happened yesterday, the same day Boris Johnson warned the Kremlin boss that an attack on Ukraine would be a “tragic miscalculation”.
The two Russian Tu-95s were being escorted by two Tu-142 maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft when they were spotted north of Scotland on Tuesday.
The RAF confirmed that they had “intercepted and escorted” the four Russian “Bear” planes in a British “area of interest”, but the Russians had not entered British airspace.
The Tu-95s had flown from Engels air base in the Saratov region, and the Tu-142s from Kipelovo air base in the Vologda region.
The RAF routinely intercepts aircraft approaching what it describes as a “British area of interest” – international airspace for which the UK has some responsibility, such as air traffic control services.
Before confirming the planes were Russian planes, an RAF spokesman said yesterday: “Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighters from RAF Lossiemouth, supported by a Voyager tanker from RAF Brize Norton, were launched against unidentified aircraft , which are approaching the British area of interest.
“We will not offer any further details on this ongoing operation until it is complete.”
“We then intercepted and escorted four Russian Bear planes,” a spokesman said several hours later after the operation was declared over.
Yesterday, Mr Johnson warned Mr Putin that the convergence of up to 100,000 Russian troops on the Ukrainian border posed a “clear and present danger” and that an invasion of Ukraine would pose a “military catastrophe” for Moscow.
Mr Johnson accused the Russian president of effectively “holding a gun… to Ukraine’s head” and said Britain will hit Moscow with sanctions “the moment the first Russian toe-cap encroaches further into Ukrainian territory” – and that Kiev would fight back “a very fierce and bloody resistance”.
On Monday, the French military announced that it had been monitoring two Russian ships, the Soobrazitelniy and the Stoykiy, and later handed responsibility to the US Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Argyle and the USS Roosevelt.