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."
"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 BidenCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Wendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Sullivan: 'It's too soon to tell' if Texas synagogue hostage situation part of broader extremist threat MORE last week raised concerns with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia cannot 'tolerate' NATO's 'gradual invasion' of Ukraine, Putin spokesman says Fears of Russian invasion of Ukraine rise despite US push for diplomacy Overnight Defense & National Security — US says Russia prepping 'false flag' operation 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.