For John, BLUF: There are things to get excited about, but this is not one of them. Nothing to see here; just move along.
From CNN, a question, by Ms Laura Smith-Spark, "Why is Russia sending bombers close to U.S. airspace?".
Here is the lede:
Two Russian bombers intercepted by U.S. fighter jets off the California coast on July Fourth could be seen as having raised a metaphorical middle finger to the United States.The "metaphorical middle finger" is just purple prose.
"Good morning, American pilots. We are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day," they said, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The passing of a message is nothing new. Back during the Cold War the Soviet Embassy in Washington, DC, would get the new edition of Playboy, put it in a diplomatic pouch and dispatch it to Moscow, where it would be rerouted to a Soviet Bomber Base. A large Tu-95 bomber would then launch on a reconnaissance mission and when the USAF interceptors from Naval Air Station Keflavík (Iceland) flew up along side the bomber the Soviet aircrew would open up and show the Playboy centerfold, the one the American aviators hadn't seen yet. All good clean fun.
As for why the flights, the aircrews need the flight hours for their flight pay. Long over-water flights are a good professional challenge and a way to burnish skills. Do they gather intelligence during the flight? Yes, but so do we when we fly the same kinds of profiles against Russia and China.
This is NOT a big deal.
Regards — Cliff