RAF Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled as Russian bombers approached UK airspace.
The jets were launched from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland just after 11.00 (Wednesday).
The fighters were joined by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
The Typhoons intercepted the two Tu-95 Bear H bomber aircraft & two Tu-142 Bear F reconnaissance aircraft, flying north of Scotland.
The Russian planes were in a “UK area of interest”.
However, during their five hours airborne they did not enter UK sovereign airspace.
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said:
“This is a classic game of cat and mouse.
“Given the climate [Ukraine], this isn’t by accident.
“These tactics are part of a wider strategy to rattle the UK and essentially as a reminder that we cannot afford to send aircraft towards Ukraine because of threats to our airspace far closer to home.
“We shouldn’t be intimidated by this; it has now become standard from Russia to distract us from its wider objective of widening its sphere of influence and aligning the country closer to China.”
A Royal Air Force spokesman said:
“Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighters based at RAF Lossiemouth supported by a Voyager from RAF Brize Norton were scrambled today against unidentified aircraft approaching the UK area of interest.
“Subsequently we intercepted and escorted four Russian Bear aircraft.
“The RAF remains constantly alert and ready to intercept any potential airborne threat around UK airspace.”