The British military announced that the RAF Typhoon combat aircraft sortied from a Romanian air base near Constanta on Tuesday, in response to two Russian Tu-22 strategic bombers flying over the western Black Sea.
The Russian supersonic bombers, code-named Backfire by NATO, were tracked as they departed south but the jets did not come within visual range of each other.
“This was a routine operation and is no different to what NATO aircraft do in other areas on a regular basis,” said Andrew Coe, commanding officer of 135 Expeditionary Air Wing based in Romania.
“The RAF have a long tradition and experience of conducting such activities in the UK and it is a normal peacetime activity to monitor flights in airspace of interest,” he added.
In a statement on Wednesday, Russia’s military confirmed Tuesday’s flight over the Black Sea, adding that the Tu-22 bombers were flanked by Su-27 fighter jets.
However, the Russian Defense Ministry said “not a single foreign military aircraft” approached the Russian bombers. RAF said the reason for that is likely because the Typhoon tracked the Russian aircraft at a distance and “the jets did not come within visual range of each other.”
Russian officials have repeatedly warned against the deployment of “non-regional” forces above the Black Sea, a priority area for Russia since its reunification with Crimea following a referendum in March 2014.
Western countries have moved to step up their military presence in Eastern Europe to deter what they call Russian “aggression.”
The United States has deployed a contingent of troops to Eastern Europe since Russia’s reunification with the Crimean peninsula. The US deployments have been supplemented by four NATO battle groups of more than 1,000 soldiers.
Around 3,500 US troops arrived in Poland in January, one of the largest deployments of US forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War in 1991.