Putin's flight on nuclear-capable bomber sends signal to the West

World News
2024-02-22 | 09:35
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Putin's flight on nuclear-capable bomber sends signal to the West
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Putin's flight on nuclear-capable bomber sends signal to the West

Russian President Vladimir Putin flew on a modernized Tu-160M nuclear-capable strategic bomber on Thursday in a move likely to be seen in the West as a pointed reminder of Moscow's nuclear capabilities.

The giant swing-wing plane, codenamed "Blackjacks" by the military alliance NATO, is a modernized version of a Cold War-era bomber that the former Soviet Union would have deployed in the event of nuclear war to deliver weapons at long distances.

Putin, who is expected to win another six-year term next month easily, made the flight at a time when Moscow and the West are at odds over Russia's war in Ukraine and the death in prison of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Some Russian and US diplomats say they do not remember a time of worse relations between the world's two most considerable nuclear powers, including during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

State TV showed the giant plane taking off from a runway belonging to the factory in Kazan, which makes the modernized supersonic aircraft, with correspondent Pavel Zarubin excitedly calling it "a unique event."

During a training exercise, Putin, 71, flew in an older version of the aircraft in 2005.

Under a contract signed in 2018, 10 of the modernized Tu-160M nuclear bombers will be delivered to the Russian Air Force at 15 billion roubles ($163 million) each between now and 2027.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the plane's flight path was a military secret but that the flight with Putin aboard would last up to 40 minutes, TASS state news agency reported.

The Tu-160M, which has a crew of four, can carry 12 cruise missiles or 12 short-range nuclear missiles and fly 12,000 km (7,500 miles) non—stop without refueling.

Reuters

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Russia

Nuclear Capabilities

The West

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NATO

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