F-22 jets
© Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters
A pair of F-22 jets - scrambled by North American Aerospace Defense Command - shadowed Russia's Tu-95 long-range bombers over neutral waters in the Arctic, the Defense Ministry in Moscow has confirmed.

"The Russian Air Force's Tu-95MS strategic bomber aircraft have carried out scheduled flights over neutral waters in Arctic Ocean as well as the Bering and Okhotsk Seas," the ministry said in a statement on Friday. "The aircraft were escorted by two US Air Force F-22 fighter jets on certain legs of their route," it added.

Long-range bombers frequently carry out routine patrols over the Arctic and the Atlantic, as well as the Baltic Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the Defense Ministry said. Such sorties are flown "in strict compliance with international regulations without violating foreign borders."

Reports on the intercept over the Arctic emerged earlier in US media. Citing a spokesman for the Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Washington Free Beacon reported that the encounter took place off the Alaska coast.

"Two Alaskan-based NORAD F-22 fighters intercepted and visually identified two Tu-95 'Bear' long-range bomber aircraft flying in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone, south of the Aleutian Islands," Michael Kucharek, a NORAD spokesman, told the media outlet.

He did not disclose how far the Russian bombers were from the west coast of Alaska, but said the F-22s shadowed them until they left NORAD's identification zone. "At no time did the Russian bombers enter Canadian or United States sovereign airspace," he stated.

It was the second time that Russian bombers have been shadowed by American fighter jets this year. In May, two Tu-95s bombers were also intercepted off the coast of Alaska by two F-22s. The Russian military said the US jets had not approached closer than 100 meters, while they shadowed the bombers along part of the route for 40 minutes.