The same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin sent congratulations to the White House to mark July 4, the U.S. military was tracking Russian bombers off the coast of Alaska and California.
The U.S. military performed two intercepts of Russians aircraft, though they never entered U.S. airspace, according to a U.S. military official.
The official told CNN that while the U.S. intercepts were routine from a military point of view, the Pentagon views it as Putin “sending a message” to the U.S. on Independence Day, especially because of the congratulatory message to President Barack Obama.
In the message, Putin expressed confidence that the two countries can “find solutions to international issues and efficiently resist global threats and challenges as they base their dialogue on principles of equality and respect of each other’s interests,” according to a Kremlin press release.
In Alaska, F-22s took off to identify and track two TU-95 Bear bombers near the Southern coast. The two bombers were followed until they turned around.
Similarly off the coast of California, F-15s tracked two other TU-95s that had been detected near the coast of San Francisco. The incident in California was a rarity, because Russian forces don’t generally travel that far South. However, this was reminiscent of a similar flight Russia performed off the West coast on July 4 three years prior.