Russian Aircraft Diverted Away From Alaskan Airspace

Four Russian aircraft were intercepted near Alaska Tuesday in what American officials are calling a routine operation. The incident occurred during heightened awareness over American airspace and a similar interception of Russian aircraft near Polish airspace.

The Russian warplanes were diverted from near Alaska by several American jets. According to the Defense Department, the Russian aircraft were within international airspace but entered into the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone. According to military officials, four Russian aircraft entered the skies near Alaska. This included both bombers and fighter jets.

Defense officials were careful to state that the interception of Russian aircraft was not related to the recent shootdown of an unidentified object over Alaska last week.

The Russian fighters intercepted were Sukhoi Su-35s, among the most advanced Russian aircraft and have a top speed of more than Mach 2 and a range of over 2,000 miles.

The bombers, Tupolev Tu-95s, are an old Soviet design that can carry nuclear weapons. The aircraft has been modernized over the last two decades to carry a more advanced cruise missile.

The latest incident comes during the most active two weeks of domestic military aerial operations since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The interception also came after serious concerns emerged that the Chinese spy balloon could be the preface of wider action by Beijing.

On the same day, several Russian aircraft neared Polish airspace and were escorted away by two Dutch F-35 fighter jets. The incursion included one Russian reconnaissance and two fighter aircraft.

Interceptions such as the one near Alaska are not uncommon but come with elevated risk following both the Russo-Ukrainian War and the Chinese balloon incident.

The news near the Bering Strait separating Alaska from Russia also comes as American officials warn that Russia may be preparing a new offensive in Ukraine as the one-year anniversary of the start of that conflict approaches later this month.