Britain scrambles Typhoon jets to escort Russian bombers

An RAF Typhoon fighter aircraft lands at RAF base Northolt, where four of the aircraft will be based as part of the Olympics related security exercise in west London, Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The Typhoon interceptor aircraft forms a part of a co-ordinated defence against possible threats to the London 2012 Olympic games, involving all three of the British armed services, with high end weaponry including a missile defence system, fighter aircraft and AWACS aircraft. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON (Reuters) - British Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian long-range bombers near UK airspace north of Scotland, Britain's Ministry of Defence said on Thursday.

Intercepts of Russian aircraft by NATO have increased over the last year amid heightened tensions between the West and Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.

"The aircraft were identified as Russian Bear aircraft which were escorted by the RAF Typhoon fighters until they were out of the UK area of interest. At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace," a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said in a statement.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Editing by William James)