The Russian planes were spotted off Finnmark in northern Norway by two F-35 fighter jets on Thursday (May 26). The Kremlin planes, a Mikoyan MiG-31 ‘Foxhound’ and a Sukhoi Su-24 ‘Fencer’ retreated east after being intercepted by the Norwegian jets.
Norway still has two F-35 fighters on standby as part of NATO’s rapid reaction alert.
Ms Gaasland told Norwegian TV 2 Nyhetene: “In 15 minutes they have to be in the air and ready at all times. It’s 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
When asked if the incursions posed a threat to Norway, she replied, “I don’t want to say that, because we are used to it happening and there is nothing illegal about it- inside.
“We pay close attention to all activities in our local areas.”
It comes amid growing tensions between Russia and Finland since the country formally requested to join NATO following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
Finland and Sweden simultaneously submitted their demands for a military alliance earlier this month, marking a historic geopolitical shift in response to Russia’s aggression.
The two nations had long been NATO partners, but were prompted to seek formal membership by the conflict in Ukraine, which has passed its third month.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said their applications were “warmly welcomed”, adding that their membership would strengthen NATO’s “shared security”.
The expansion marks a major setback for President Putin, who justified the invasion by saying he wanted to prevent the alliance from expanding further east.
When the two countries first announced their intention to join the alliance, they were met with an outraged reaction from the Kremlin, with the Russian Foreign Ministry warning that the move would threaten to upset “the stability and security of the ‘North Europe”.
However, Putin said this week that the NATO expansion plan posed “no direct threat to Russia” and that he had “no problem” with Finland or Sweden.
But he warned that the Kremlin would react if the alliance set up military bases or equipment in either country.
Speaking on Monday, May 16, when Sweden officially announced its application for membership, Putin warned that “the expansion of military infrastructure in this territory will provoke a response from us”. [ . . .] based on the threats they create for us”.