A British RAF Typhoon shadows a Russian Bear-H bomber
Representational imageReuters File

Two Russian fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear missiles were intercepted by the Royal Air Force (RAF) over the English Channel on Wednesday. 

The Russian fighter jets, capable of carrying nuclear missiles, were spotted as they flew south of Bournemouth prompting Britain to launch its Typhoons from the RAF bases at Lossiemouth in Scotland and Coningsby in eastern England, the MoD said.

"The Russian planes were escorted by the RAF until they were out of the UK area of interest. At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace," a Reuters report citing the MoD statement noted.

Following the breach, Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko was summoned to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

A Sputnik News report later citing Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko played down the concerns of the British side as unwarranted.

"The two Russian military aircraft were on a routine air patrol duty over the high seas of the Atlantic Ocean. This flight (as all other routine flights of the Russian military aircraft) was carried out in strict compliance with the international legal norms including International Flight Rules and Regulations, without violation of other Countries' airspace, therefore it cannot be regarded as threatening, destabilising or disruptive," the report citing Yakovenko noted.

Elizabeth Quintana, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a defence think tank, noted that the Russian bombers did deviate from their standard route.

"Normally Russian Bears come past Norway and down the North Sea. It could have been used to probe the RAF speed of reaction south," Daily Mail quoted Quintana as saying."Flying any military aircraft in or close to the sovereign airspace of another country signals displeasure or at worst aggression."

Tensions between Russia and NATO nations has been on an all-time high over the escalating situation in Ukraine. NATO also been worried over the increasing air-patrolling by Russians, which in 2014 carried out over 100 breaches on sovereign airspace.

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