Two Tupolev 95 bombers were spotted heading for the North Sea last night, where NATO aircraft met them, before they changed course. They did not come close to nor approach Iceland.
RÚV reported, with the headline “Russian Military Aircraft Close To Iceland”, that the bombers set off from the Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia towards the North Sea. NATO forces kept track of their movements, and when the bombers approached the northeast coast of Scotland, the UK made the decision to send fighter jets to greet them. Danish and Dutch forces also reportedly joined in.
As NATO planes approached, the Tupolevs changed course and headed north. Contrary to RÚV’s headline, the bombers stayed in international airspace for the duration of their flight, and flew neither towards nor near Iceland.
Russian military aircraft are, however, no strangers to Iceland. In 2012, it was reported that Russian fighter jets had been repeatedly flying through Icelandic airpsace, uninvited and unannounced, despite requests from the Icelandic government that they provide notification ahead of time.
In fact, from the time the NATO base in Iceland closed in 2006 to early 2010, the Russian air force had buzzed Icelandic airpsace at least 62 times. This latest NATO-Russia interception was not one of those times.