b-52 bomber starr dnt vpx
Defense Department
b-52 bomber starr dnt vpx
Now playing
01:51
US sends bombers to Europe in message to Putin
CNN
Now playing
03:51
'Shocking instances of human rights abuses': UNICEF official on crimes in Ethiopia
Reuters
Now playing
02:14
Military spokesman announces transitional president in Chad
alexey navalny russia health vladimir putin Kiley pkg intl ldn vpx_00012003.png
alexey navalny russia health vladimir putin Kiley pkg intl ldn vpx_00012003.png
Now playing
03:06
Navalny ally warns he is in dire health. Here's how he got here
Cuba communist party new leadership Oppmann pkg intl hnk vpx_00000529.png
Cuba communist party new leadership Oppmann pkg intl hnk vpx_00000529.png
Now playing
02:44
Meet Cuba's new leader who's not a Castro
Indian railway worker saves child from oncoming train
Indian Ministry of Railways
Indian railway worker saves child from oncoming train
Now playing
00:55
See moment child is saved from oncoming train
screengrab hong kong oscars
IMDB / Field of Vision
screengrab hong kong oscars
Now playing
02:49
Hong Kong won't air Oscars for the first time since 1968
A split of Alexey Navalny and Vladimir Milov, one of his advisers.
CNN/Getty Images
A split of Alexey Navalny and Vladimir Milov, one of his advisers.
Now playing
02:50
'Absolutely disastrous': Navalny adviser on Navalny's medical test results
reality check john avlon
reality check john avlon
Now playing
02:59
Avlon: Will GOP still parrot Putin's disinformation post-Trump?
Reuters
Now playing
01:20
Firefighters battle flames in South African national park
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny delivers a speech during a demonstration in Moscow on September 29, 2019. - Thousands gathered in Moscow for a demonstration demanding the release of the opposition protesters prosecuted in recent months. Police estimated a turnout of 20,000 people at the Sakharov Avenue in central Moscow about half an hour after the start of the protest, which was authorised. The demonstrators chanted "let them go" and brandished placards demanding a halt to "repressions" of opposition protesters. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP) (Photo by YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images)
YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny delivers a speech during a demonstration in Moscow on September 29, 2019. - Thousands gathered in Moscow for a demonstration demanding the release of the opposition protesters prosecuted in recent months. Police estimated a turnout of 20,000 people at the Sakharov Avenue in central Moscow about half an hour after the start of the protest, which was authorised. The demonstrators chanted "let them go" and brandished placards demanding a halt to "repressions" of opposition protesters. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP) (Photo by YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:09
Alexey Navalny 'close to death,' press secretary says
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: The Duke of Edinburgh's coffin, covered with His Royal Highness's Personal Standard is carried to the purpose built Land Rover during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born 10 June 1921, in Greece. He served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He married the then Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947 and was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King VI. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. His funeral takes place today at Windsor Castle with only 30 guests invited due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Adrian Dennis/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Adrian Dennis/WPA Pool/Getty Images
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: The Duke of Edinburgh's coffin, covered with His Royal Highness's Personal Standard is carried to the purpose built Land Rover during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born 10 June 1921, in Greece. He served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He married the then Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947 and was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King VI. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. His funeral takes place today at Windsor Castle with only 30 guests invited due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Adrian Dennis/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:29
See memorable moments from Prince Philip's funeral
ITN
Now playing
02:10
Princes Harry and William seen together at Prince Philip's funeral
Getty Images
Now playing
03:00
The end of an era has arrived in Cuba
Cuban prime minister Fidel Castro talking with parents of some of the American prisoners held hostage for food and supplies by the Cuban government after the abortive emigre invasion at the Bay of Pigs, January 1963.
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Cuban prime minister Fidel Castro talking with parents of some of the American prisoners held hostage for food and supplies by the Cuban government after the abortive emigre invasion at the Bay of Pigs, January 1963.
Now playing
05:37
Remembering the Bay of Pigs invasion, 60 years later
Myanmar Bago killing Hancocks pkg intl hnk vpx_00002309.png
Myanmar Bago killing Hancocks pkg intl hnk vpx_00002309.png
Now playing
03:39
Eyewitnesses recount bloody crackdown in Bago, Myanmar
(CNN) —  

At first glance, it looked like a scene out of “Dr. Strangelove:” The Russian Ministry of Defense this week published a video of what it claimed was a pair of fighters chasing an American B-52 bomber away from Russian airspace.

But this wasn’t exactly Slim Pickens going toe to toe with the Russkies. US and Russian military aircraft regularly shadow each other in international airspace, and the US military described the incident as a “routine interaction” with a Russian Su-27 fighter.

“The pilots were using transponders and operating in conformity with international law,” US Air Forces in Europe spokesperson Lt. Col. Davina Petermann told CNN in a statement. “The Russian aircraft did not chase the B-52 away, and the bomber was able to complete its mission.”

Such midair encounters, however, do come amid a general escalation in tensions between Russia and the United States.

The US Air Force recently deployed six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Europe for “theater integration and flying training” exercises with regional allies and NATO partners. The aircraft arrived in the UK late last week as part of a show of force: The US deployed the bombers to the UK and more than 1,000 troops to Poland as concerns grow over whether Russia has or will send its own bombers to Crimea.

And Russian President Vladimir Putin has brandished new weaponry that he says is designed to thwart American defenses – and that could be aimed at the US homeland.

Relations between Russia and the United States have already hit Cold War lows in the wake of Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election. And saber-rattling has continued around the globe: Late last year, Putin raised eyebrows when he sent a pair of nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela, signaling willingness to flex military muscles in the eastern hemisphere.

All of this is against the background of a possible new strategic arms race, after the Trump administration effectively scrapped the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. Moscow also suspended participation in the 1987 arms-control accord in a tit-for-tat response to Washington’s declaration it would pull out of the agreement unless Moscow complies with its terms.

So how worried do we need to be about these aerial games of chicken? Military analysts have long warned that there is chance such an incident can escalate into a diplomatic or even military conflict. Think of the crisis that followed after a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane made an emergency landing in China in 2001 after colliding with a Chinese fighter jet sent to intercept it.

That incident came dangerously close to being repeated last year, when a US Navy reconnaissance aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet in what the US military described as an unsafe and unprofessional manner.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, said this week he does not believe Putin wants to attack the US’s allies, at least not in the conventional sense, telling CNN’s Barbara Starr: “I think it’s very clear that the price, the cost that would be imposed on Putin for doing that would far exceed whatever he could hope to gain.”

But the upshot, it seems, is that the risks of miscalculation are as high as ever.