The Canadian government revealed this morning that Canadian fighter jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian bombers approaching Canadian airspace near its Northwest Territories on Tuesday. The Canadian jets returned to base without incident once the Russian planes turned around. The announcement comes on the eve of a visit by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to northern Canada to observe military exercises over the Arctic.
The Russian TU-95 Bear jet bombers flew within 30 miles (50 km.) of Canadian soil after having first been spotted nearly 120 nautical miles north of Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Canada has linked the Russian flights over the arctic and near Canadian airspace to competition between Canada, the United States, Russia, and others to secure arctic resources as polar ice caps melt and reveal new potential sources of oil, natural gas and minerals resources.
A similar incident involving Russian bombers occurred last month off Canada’s east coast and again in February 2009. In both cases, Canadian fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the Russian aircraft. Russian officials have repeatedly claimed that their planes never encroached on Canadian airspace.