RAF jets have been scrambled to intercept Russian ''Blackjack' bombers near UK airspace, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
Two Typhoon fighter jets were dispatched from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, north-east Scotland shortly after 9am on Monday.
An RAF Voyager air-to-air refuelling jet was also sent from Brize Norton.
The MoD said two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 bombers were intercepted as they flew over the North Sea between Denmark and the Netherlands. Belgian military planes were also scrambled.
At no point did they enter UK airspace, the MoD added.
Flight mapping services showed the RAF aircraft circling north of Scotland.
An RAF spokesman said: “We can confirm that Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth scrambled to monitor two Blackjack bombers approaching the UK area of interest.
"The Russian aircraft were initially monitored by a variety of friendly nation fighters and subsequently intercepted by the RAF in the North Sea."
The mission was called off at around 11.45am after the Russian jets continued north-east towards the Norwegian Sea.
The RAF routinely intercepts and escorts Russian aircraft flying in international airspace close to the UK.
In September two Typhoons and a Voyager were sent to escort Russian military planes close to Scotland.
And again in May, RAF jets were dispatched to deal with a similar potential incursion.
But the MoD said Russian military flights have never entered UK sovereign airspace without authorisation.
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