Canada intercepted two Russian bombers near Arctic: ministry
Canadian military jets intercepted two Russian bombers this week as they approached Canadian airspace near the Arctic, the defense ministry said Friday.
"The two Russian TU-95 bombers have returned to their base without incident," Canadian Defense Ministry spokesman Jay Paxton told AFP of the situation that occurred Wednesday.
"They were found 250 nautical miles (463 kilometers) from Goose Bay in the province of Newfoundland, in waters in a Canadian buffer zone," he said.
Since 2007, a number of Russian planes have been intercepted each year by Canadian jets, according to Paxton.
Canadian claim over its waters extends 200 nautical miles from shore, although Canada has previously claimed up to 300 nautical miles from land into international waters.
Russian officials, however, denied any confrontation took place.
"The Russian flights were in international air space," insisted Sergei Khudyov, a spokesman at the Russian embassy in Ottawa, in a statement to the Toronto Star newspaper.
"Nothing happened. The Canadian military are well aware of the flights," he added.
Claims over the hemisphere's far north has seen Arctic nations increasingly on edge about their territory, with a global race on for vast oil and gas reserves believed to be hidden beneath the seabed.
Each of the five Arctic nations claim overlapping parts of the region estimated to hold 90 billion untapped barrels of oil.
Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States pledged in 2008 to try to avoid territorial conflicts and balance economic opportunities with conservation of this fragile ecosystem.
But a Canadian study has found a significant build-up of military assets in the far north.
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that any coastal state can claim undersea territory 200 nautical miles from their shoreline and exploit the natural resources within that zone.
Nations can also extend that limit to up to 350 nautical miles from their coast if they can provide scientific proof that the undersea continental plate is a natural extension of their territory.
© 2010 AFP