Russian bombers intercepted by US jets off the coast of Alaska on Monday night in the first encounter since Donald Trump took over office.
The last time Russian bombers flew near the US was on July 4, 2015, when the planes came as close as 40 miles off the shore of Mendocino, California.
While the planes were flying off the US coast, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, made a point of calling Barack Obama to wish him a happy Independence Day.
This time, Russia sent the two nuclear-capable bombers to within 100 miles of Kodiak Island, forcing the scrambling of the US planesThe US Air Force sent two F-22 stealth fighter jets and an E-3 airborne early warning plane to intercept the Russian bombers.
The American jets flew alongside the Russian bombers for 12 minutes, Fox News reported, before the Russian bombers reversed course and headed back to their base in eastern Russia.
The two Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers were flying roughly 280 miles southwest of Elmendorf Air Force Base, within the Air Defense Identification Zone of the United States.
And the provocative move comes amid a time of high tension between the US and Russia, following the gassing of a Syrian town by Russian-backed Bashar al-Assad, and the US in retaliation bombing a Syrian airfield.
Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, visited Moscow last week, noting that relations were at a “low point” – while sitting next to Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart.
While Mr Tillerson was in Moscow, three Russian bombers flew near the east coast of America’s ally Japan, forcing the Japanese military to scramble 14 fighter jets at various times to intercept the bombers. A Russian spy plane also flew along Japan’s west coast.