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U.S., Canadian Fighters Intercept Russian Aircraft Flying Near Arctic Coastline

Russian aircraft have buzzed Alaskan and Canadian coastlines at least twice last week. And in response, U.S. and Canadian air forces sent jets to intercept them.

The Globe and Mail newspaper of Toronto reportedFriday that a pair of Russian bombers flew within 40 nautical miles of Canada northern land mass on Thursday. The pair of long-range bombers turned back after being intercepted over the Beaufort Sea by two Canadian F-18s.

The newspaper says the Tupolev bombers didn’t enter Canadian airspace; they only entered Canada’s Air Defense Identification Zone, which extends about 100 miles north of the coastline.

Russian officials say they were conducting what Moscow has long referred to as training flights.

That followed a similar incident about six hours earlier over American waters. Late Wednesday, the Air Force scrambled two F-22s from Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson to intercept six Russian military aircraft that were flying within 55 nautical miles of the Alaskan coastline.

CNN reportedthat the two Mig-31 jet fighters, along with two long-range bombers and two refueling tankers, didn’t enter U.S. airspace, only the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone.

The network reported Sunday that U.S. officials believe the two incidents were linked to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s visits to the United States and Canada.

The Christian Science Monitor reportsthat a North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman said Friday that the flights are part of an increase in such activity near the Alaska air defense identification zone.

The Globe and Mail says U.S. and Canadian warplanes have intercepted about 50 Russian aircraft over the past five years.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.