Russian MiG-31 fighter jet intercepts U.S. aircraft as Moscow eyes NATO drills

Russia scrambled a fighter jet by its far eastern border to escort a US military plane as tensions continue to grow between Washington, DC and Moscow over tit-for-tat aircraft maneuvers.a fighter jet flying through a blue sky: Russia's MiG-31 supersonic interceptor jets fly over Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2018.

The MiG-31 fighter took off to escort the U.S. Air Force RC-135 strategic reconnaissance aircraft over the Chukchi Sea, which is also known as the Sea of Chukotsk, a body of water between the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Strait that separates Alaska from Russia.

Russia’s National Defense Control Center said in a statement that its jet was scrambled from its Pacific Fleet “to identify the air target and prevent violation of the border of the Russian Federation,” Tass reported.

“The flight of the Russian fighter was carried out in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace,” the center added.

The incident is Russia’s latest intercept of an American aircraft. Last month a Russian MiG-31 fighter jet escorted the same kind of U.S. reconnaissance aircraft over the Pacific Ocean.

Amid simmering tensions, Moscow said it would withdraw troops from its border with Ukraine following deployments that caused global concern, although NATO has said that tens of thousands of Russian troops remain.

It comes as Russia keeps a close watch on DEFENDER Europe 2021, the U.S. Army-led military exercises taking place across Europe and Africa involving alliance members and allies.

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