This is the problem with bombers - when they fly they occasionally get close to someone airspace. And occasionally politicians decide they want to make a fuss about it. Which is exactly what the Canadians did today when the defense minister announced that on February 18 two Russian Tu-95MS bombers appeared about 190 kilometers northeast of Tuktoyuktuk, in Canada's Northwest Territories.
Why this is news? Beats me. As it normally happens, the bombers were approached by Canadian jets, after which they turned around and went back home. The Russian military are puzzled as well - it was a routine training flight in international airspace, which was done with all usual preparations and notifications.
I find Canada's behavior highly irresponsible. Not that of the jets that were scrambled to intercept the bombers, but that of the politicians who decided to launch the brouhaha about the incident. It was a cynical political move on the part of the defense minister and it should be considered as such.
The incident also illustrates the dangers of continuing business as usual when it comes to nuclear forces - even though they no longer have a meaningful mission, bombers continue to fly, submarines still go on patrol, nuclear-armed cruise missiles get moved from one base to another. As a result, once in a while bombers get involved into all kind of irresponsible games (political, like this one, or otherwise), submarines collide, nuclear cruise missiles get lost en route. All this doesn't look good.