The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement issued on Tuesday that two Russian strategic bombers flew over the Sea of Japan for more than seven hours, while the Japanese prime minister began a visit to Ukraine.
The Tupolev Tu-95MS are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and Moscow regularly flies them over international waters in the Arctic, North Atlantic, and Pacific oceans as a show of force.
The timing of this latest trip seems more accurate than usual, as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was due to travel to Kiev later to show solidarity with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his war with Russia.
Japanese broadcaster NHK showed Mr. Kishida boarding the train in the Polish town of Przemysl, near the Ukrainian border.
Russia said the strategic bombers made a “planned flight” accompanied by fighter jets. The Defense Ministry said the flight took place in strict compliance with international law and over neutral waters.
In February, the US Air Defense Forces were sent to intercept several Russian strategic bombers and fighter jets flying over international airspace near Alaska.
Japan, which has its own territorial dispute with Moscow over islands in the North Pacific Ocean dating back to the end of World War II, is a major Asian ally of the United States and a member of the group of seven wealthy democracies. Western sanctions against Russia.
Kishida’s visit to Ukraine also coincides with the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow.