Two nuclear-capable Russian bombers reportedly intruded into the U.S. air defense zone near Alaska last week.

The Washington Free Beacon, citing defense officials, reports the tu-95 Bear H bombers flew into the zone on April 22, but no U.S. jets were dispatched to intercept them.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for NORAD, declined to confirm the incursion to The Times, but said that no jets were dispatched to intercept intruding aircraft.

The incident was the first Russian bomber incursion of a U.S. or Canadian air defense zone this year. It likely signals the start of Russia’s long-range aviation training cycle, officials said.

U.S. and Canadian jets intercepted Russian bombers at least six times last year, while intruding Russian long-range aircraft were detected on 10 occasions, Davis said.

Senior military officials have said that Russia has increased bomber flights near U.S. coasts as part of a strategic messaging and influence operation.

Northern Command commander Adm. William Gortney told reporters earlier this month that Russia is developing a more capable military than the former Soviet Union. Both flight missions and numbers of locations for the flights “have gone up,” Gortney said.

The latest bomber mission near Alaska was described as provocative and dangerous by the Pentagon. At that time, a U.S. RC-135 intercepted the bomber.

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