Fighter jets intercepted two Russian Blackjack bombers from four European states as they flew from the direction of Norway to northern Spain and back, it has emerged.
The UK, Norway, France and Spain all clambered jets as the TU 160 airplanes skirted the airspace of each nation.
It comes at a time of heightened tension between Russia and the West.
Correspondents say the frequency of Russian bombers being intercepted by Nato planes has grown markedly.
Spanish media say it is the furthest south such an operation has had to happen.
It referred to it by the four states involved as an Air Policing [Baltic support] assignment.
It said the two Blackjack bombers were not discovered by norway to the north and scrambled two F-16 fighters to accompany them.
The British RAF subsequently sent Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth to intercept the planes as they flew to the west of Shetland.
The RAF said at the time that at no point did UK air space is entered by the Russian jets.
British Typhoons were also launched as a precautionary measure from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, the RAF added, but didn’t intercept the bombers.
The Russian airplanes skirted the west of Ireland and were picked up by two French Rafale fighter planes 100km off the coast of Brittany, the French ministry of defence said. Two other Rafale jets later took over to shadow the bombers as they flew south.
Ultimately, Spain sent two F-18 fighters to intercept the Russian airplanes north of Bilbao. The bombers then turned around and made a return journey. It truly is not considered that any additional interceptions happened.
The foreign ministry said the airplanes had flown between 6,000-9,000ft (1,800-2,700m) below a plane flying from Reykjavik to Stockholm.
For the UK, it was the latest of several similar episodes involving Russian military aircraft.
From Lossiemouth, Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled in November 2015 to intercept two Blackjack bombers.
RAF Typhoons from Lossiemouth were also scrambled in October 2015 to intercept two similar aircraft flying over the North Sea.
Russia’s relationships with the West have diminished since the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.
They recently hit a new low when the US broke off military co-operation with Moscow over Syria.