Russia has dismissed claims its planes caused “disruption to civil aviation” in the UK this week, saying its actions were not “threatening” or “disruptive”.
The UK Foreign Office said the Russian planes, which came near UK airspace on Wednesday before being “escorted” by RAF jets, were “part of an increasing pattern of out-of-area operations”.
Russia’s ambassador to the UK said the concerns were “not understandable”.
He insisted the patrols were “routine” and met “international legal norms”.
Typhoon fighters were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby to escort the Russian aircraft, and the RAF said the mission lasted 12 hours.
The Foreign Office refused to give details of the disruption to civil aviation.
BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said the Russian planes – two Tu-95 Bear H bombers – came within 25 miles of the UK.
They travelled from the north, past the west coast of Ireland and to the English Channel before turning and going back the way they had come, he said.
He said the bombers did not file a flight plan, did not have their transponders switched on and “weren’t talking to air traffic control”.
In a statement, the Russian embassy in the UK said ambassador Alexander Yakovenko had met with British officials to discuss the issue.
The statement said: “This flight (as all other routine flights of the Russian military aircraft) was carried out in strict compliance with the international legal norms including international flight rules and regulations, without violation of other countries’ airspace, therefore it cannot be regarded as threatening, destabilising or disruptive.”