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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Britain, Norway Scramble Fighter Jets

OSLO -- Norwegian and British fighters scrambled Thursday to intercept eight Russian bombers that neared the Nordic country's territory in the latest show of air power by the Kremlin, defense officials said.

The Tu-95 strategic bombers rounded Norway's northern tip over the Barents Sea and flew south over the North Atlantic before turning back, Norwegian defense officials said. The planes stayed inside international air space during the maneuvers.

"This is a message that Russia is back as a superpower," Norwegian Deputy Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide said.

British defense officials said four Royal Air Force fighters scrambled to monitor the flight, which did not enter British territory. After initially being intercepted by Norwegian aircraft, the Russian planes entered the NATO area, for which Britain has responsibility, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

Lieutenant Colonel John Inge Oeglaend, of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, said two Norwegian F-16 fighters were sent up both times that the Russian aircraft approached the northern tip of Norway, in keeping with normal practice. He said it was the third time since mid-July that Norwegian fighters have scrambled to monitor Russian air maneuvers.

"They followed a normal route in international air space," Oeglaend said by telephone from the western Norway port of Stavanger.

Norway, a member of the NATO alliance, and Russia share land and ocean borders in the Arctic, including the vast Barents Sea.

Alliance spokesman James Appathurai said Norway and Britain launched their quick reaction alert planes -- including interceptor planes, airborne warning planes and tankers -- "as part of routine NATO procedure." He added that the Russians had every right to carry out the maneuvers.

Air Force spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky said Russian long-range bombers began patrols of distant areas of the globe late Wednesday, in accordance with plans announced by President Vladimir Putin for a resumption of the flights.