RAF Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled after two Russian military aircraft were seen flying towards UK airspace, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
The British jets were launched from RAF Lossiemouth after the Russian planes were spotted north of Scotland.
An MoD spokesman said: “At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace.”
The Russian bombers were not deemed to be a threat, he added.
The aircraft were identified as Russian “Bear” strategic bombers.
It is the latest of several similar incidents involving Russian military aircraft flying close to UK airspace.
‘Flexing military might’
BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale says the RAF is “pretty used to this now” and seems to be intercepting Russian planes “about once a month”.
He said: “There has been a dramatic increase in Russian encroachments – this year there have been three times as many [RAF] intercepts as previous years.
“The worry is when these Russian bombers come, there’s no signal – they don’t have their transponder, they are not ‘squawking’ – so in other words, only military radar pick them up.”
With the Russians investing heavily in their military, he said it was “another example of Russia flexing its military might”.
Russian officials have consistently denied any wrongdoing and said their planes have been complying with international rules.
Tensions between Nato countries and Russia have risen in recent months over Moscow’s role in the conflict in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea.
In the North Sea, off the coast of Norway, Nato has been conducting its largest ever anti-submarine warfare exercise.
It is seen as a response to the growing threat from Russian submarines which have stepped up their own patrols in the area.