British and Norwegian fighter jets scrambled over the North Sea after Russian bombers were spotted flying at “unusual” latitudes overnight, the Norwegian military said July 20.The repeated sightings of Russian jets — the most numerous off Norway’s coast since the end of the Cold War, according to Norwegian public radio NRK — came amid an escalating diplomatic crisis between Russia and Britain.In the third incident of its kind this week, Norwegian jets were again called out early July 20 as another two Russian bombers were spotted close to Norwegian airspace, the military said.Two Russian TU95 Bear bombers were first detected overnight July 19 in international airspace between Stavanger, southeastern Norway, and the Scottish town Aberdeen, Norwegian army spokesman Lt. Col. Jon Inge Oegland told AFP.“It is a little unusual. It’s been a long time since we saw Russian aircraft this far south,” he said.Norway sent two F-16 fighters “to identify the aircraft and to mark the Norwegian airspace,” he said, adding that Britain also dispatched aircraft to the scene.The Russian bombers then turned back.Hours later, two Russian TU160 Blackjack bombers were observed flying westward, west of the Barents Sea, early Friday morning, again prompting the Norwegian military to dispatch F-16s, Oegland said.“Both times the Russian bombers stayed within international airspace the entire time. They didn’t do anything wrong,” Oegland stressed.“It would be pure speculation to guess why they did what they did.”Britain announced on July 16 the expulsion of four Russian diplomats after Moscow refused to extradite a suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence agent turned Kremlin critic.Two Russian TU95 Bear bombers were detected in the Norwegian Sea off northwestern Norway on July 17. Oslo and London scrambled fighters, but the Russian planes turned back on their own, the Norwegian military said.Moscow responded with tit-for-tat expulsions of British diplomats on July 19.

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