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B-52 Stratofortress bomber intercepted by Russia on border

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber arrives at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar April 9, 2016.

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Last Updated Jun 6, 2017 10:08 AM EDT

MOSCOW -- The Russia's defense ministry said it scrambled a fighter jet Tuesday to intercept and escort a U.S. strategic bomber flying over the Baltic alongside the Russian border. The American B-52 Stratofortress bomber was flying near the border of Russian airspace.

The defense ministry said in a statement the Russian Su-27 was dispatched to the area over the Baltic Sea on Tuesday morning after Russian radars spotted an aircraft flying along the border. The ministry said the Russian jet identified it as a U.S. B-52 strategic bomber and escorted it until it flew further away from the border.

U.S. Lt. Col. David Faggard, a spokesman for U.S. Forces Europe, said the B-52 was conducting a routine mission in international airspace over the Baltic when it was intercepted by the Russian fighter. Such intercepts happen routinely, Faggard said.

The B-52 bomber, normally based in Barksdale, Louisiana, is currently stationed at RAF Fairford in Britain in support of NATO exercises. Faggard also noted the B-52 had its transponders on and would have been identifiable to air traffic controllers at the time of the encounter.

Similar incidents have happened close to Russian airspace in the past. In September, a Russian fighter jet flew within 10 feet of a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft, in what American officials called an unsafe intercept over the Black Sea.