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Russian fighter jet intercepts US, Norwegian patrol aircraft over Barents Sea: report

A Russian fighter jet on Monday reportedly intercepted and escorted U.S. and Norwegian patrol aircraft over the Barents Sea.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the incident over the body of water north of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia involved a MiG-31 fighter jet, Reuters reported, citing Russia’s state-run RIA news agency.

A Pentagon official told The Hill that the Defense Department was "aware of the reports."

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"Intercept activity is not unusual. The majority of these are considered safe. However, we don’t get into details of the interactions themselves,” the official said.

A Russian MiG-31 last week escorted a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft along the country’s far northeast Kamchatka Peninsula over the Pacific Ocean, according to Russian news agency Tass. Moscow in the past month has heightened its military presence in the region, particularly at its border with Ukraine and in the Black Sea, with Russian jets and bombers frequently flying near allied airspace.

Fighting has increased in eastern Ukraine with pro-Russian separatists. Biden administration officials have confirmed that Russia now has more troops on the border with Ukraine than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

President BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' Argentina launches 'Green Mondays' campaign to cut greenhouse gases On The Money: Federal judge vacates CDC's eviction moratorium | Biden says he's open to compromise on corporate tax rate | Treasury unsure of how long it can stave off default without debt limit hike MORE last week raised concerns with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia keeping 80K troops at border amid NATO exercise, US officials say The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal Pranksters trick Canadian lawmakers with fake Navalny aide: report MORE about escalating tensions in Ukraine in a phone call where he “emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment” to Kyiv.

The recent aircraft incidents come less than a week after the Biden administration announced sanctions targeting several Russian officials and companies, and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats, as punishment for election meddling and the country’s involvement in the SolarWinds hack, which Russia has denied.

In response, Moscow expelled 10 Americans from Russia.

Updated at 12:26 p.m.