Russia denies bombers were heading for British airspace
Moscow, July. 18 (PTI): Russia today denied a media report which claimed Russian bombers were heading for British airspace before turning back after Royal Air Force fighter jets were scrambled to intercept them, saying the two planes were on a training mission over international waters.
"Our planes were on planned mission over neutral waters. Such flights have been carried out and will be carried out in line with a plan for training long-range aircraft crews," Russian Air Force Commander Col Gen Alexander Zelin said.
London and Moscow are locked in a Cold War-style row over the murder of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. Russia is refusing to hand over the main suspect to Britain, prompting London to expel four Russian diplomats.
The Times had earlier reported that two Tupolev Tu-95MS strategic bombers were heading for British airspace and two British Tornados took off from RAF base Leeming in northern England to confront them.
"In the summer training season, the long-range aviation has already conducted several exercises, including launches of cruise missiles and bombing. Crews of strategic Tu-160s and Tu-95MSs have flown to the North Pole and other remote destinations over neutral waters. This is routine planned combat training," Russian Air Force spokesman Col Alexander Drobyshevsky was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS.