September 19, 2014 - (CNN) -- By Steve Brusk and Ralph Ellis, CNN
updated 8:19 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Two U.S. jets intercepted six Russian planes that neared U.S. airspace off Alaska on Thursday and Canadian planes intercepted two Russian bombers that approached Canadian airspace, NORAD reported.
A U.S. official told CNN's Barbara Starr that officials in Washington think the incidents were related to the visit by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who talked to Canadian officials Wednesday and President Barack Obama on Thursday. The United States promised Ukraine $46 million in nonlethal aid for its battle with pro-Russian militants.
The Russian aircraft flew within about 55 nautical miles of the Alaskan coastline and about 40 nautical miles of the Canadian coastline, said Capt. Jeff Davis of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.
An American RC-135 Rivet, like the one seen here, was forced to enter Swedish air space after a Russian radar system locked onto it.
A U.S. Air Force RC-135U aircraft, like the one pictured here, was buzzed by a Russian fighter jet near Japan earlier this year. A top U.S. Air Force general said Russia was stepping up its military activities in the Asia-Pacific region as tensions increased over the Ukraine and Russia's move into Crimea.
A Russian Air Force flight demonstration team perform with their Su-27 jet fighters over St. Petersburg, Russia. An Su-27 "showed its belly" to a U.S. reconnaissance jet in April.
A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor, top, escorts a Russian Air Force Tu-95 bomber off the coast of Alaska during 2011.
Russian Air Force Tu-95 bombers fly over Moscow's Red Square on May 7.
An F-15 Eagle from the 19th Fighter Squadron takes off at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. F-15 fighters intercepted Russian bombers off California in June.
A B-52, left, and a B-2 stealth bomber fly in formation over Shreveport, Louisiana. The United States deployed both types of aircraft to Britain in June.
The Spirit of Ohio, a B-2 bomber, takes off from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Two B-2s were deployed to England in June.
A B-52 lands at an airbase in England on June 4. The B-52 was one of three to arrive.
Two Alaskan-based F-22 fighter jets intercepted two Russian IL-78 refueling tankers, two Russian Mig-31 fighter jets and two Russian Bear long-range bombers, a statement from NORAD said. The Russian planes flew in a loop and returned toward Russia.
Two Canadian CF-18 fighter jets intercepted two Russian Bear long-range bombers in the Beaufort Sea, the statement said.
Though the planes did not enter sovereign territory, the statement said, they did enter the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone west of Alaska and the Canadian ADIZ, according to a statement.
The ADIZ is a zone of airspace which extends approximately 200 miles from the coastline and is mainly within international airspace, according to the statement. The outer limits of the ADIZ go beyond U.S. sovereign air space.
State aircraft of sovereign nations are not required to file flight plans. NORAD said it has intercepted more than 50 Russian aircraft in the last five years. NORAD jets usually intercept one or two Russian planes, normally bombers.
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