A spokesman for the ministry commented on the incident, noting that at no time did the Russian planes enter "UK sovereign airspace" and that the RAF jets were scrambled from nearby Scotland in order to identify the aircraft:
"Typhoon quick reaction alert aircraft were launched today from RAF Leuchars to determine the identity of unknown aircraft that approached the NATO air policing area north of Scotland and could not be identified by other means.
"The aircraft were subsequently identified as Russian military aircraft. The Russian military aircraft remained in international airspace at all times as they are perfectly entitled to do so.
"Russian military flights have never entered UK sovereign airspace without authorisation."
The British military encountered a similar incident a week earlier when it deployed HMS Dragon, the Royal Navy's fleet-ready escort, to monitor the Vice Admiral Kulakov, a Russian vessel that was transiting close to UK waters. The spokesman noted "the powerful Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer met its Russia counterpart and is now keeping an eye on its transit south."