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 BidenTrump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race GOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden For families, sending money home to Cuba shouldn't be a political football MORE last week raised concerns with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinKaseya denies paying hackers for decryption key after ransomware attack Fox News: 'Entirely unacceptable' for 'NSA to unmask Tucker Carlson' Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia 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.