Typhoon jets from RAF Lossiemouth have intercepted two Russian long-range bombers which were approaching the UK.
The Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft took off in response to the two Tupolev TU-160 Blackjack bombers as they approached to within less than 50 miles of the UK.
The fighters escorted the Russian aircraft north away from the UK and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that "at no point" did the Blackjacks enter British sovereign airspace.
At their closest the Russian aircraft were within 30 nautical miles (34.5 miles) of the UK's sovereign airspace, the MoD said - around 40 nautical miles (46 miles) from British soil.
Officials would not confirm how many Typhoons were involved in the operation.
The fighters were supported by a Voyager air-to-air tanker.
An RAF spokesman said: "We can confirm that QRA Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth scrambled to monitor two Blackjack bombers approaching the UK area of interest.
"The Russian aircraft were initially monitored by a variety of friendly nation fighters and subsequently intercepted by the RAF in the North Sea.
"At no point did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign UK airspace."
Russian military activity near the UK in recent months has seen a series of planes scrambled and warships diverted to monitor naval vessels.
On January 8 it was reported HMS Westminster, a Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate, was tasked to intercept two of Vladimir Putin's warships and two supporting vessels as they passed close to UK waters.