The Tupolev-160 (Tu-160) strategic bomber codenamed Blackjack was seen in the skies over Western Russia amid enormous pressure on the Kremlin over the sinking of the Moskva flagship in the Black Sea.
Videos on Monday captured at least four aircraft – one capable of carrying nuclear bombs – over Kaluga region, which is between Moscow and the Ukrainian border.
The Defense Ministry in Moscow had not immediately declared the purpose of the mission.
Larger Tu-95 codenamed Bear strategic bombers have been used several times to hit targets in Ukraine with non-nuclear weapons, particularly Kh-55 and Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles.
Russia’s most recent attacks have concentrated in major cities including Kyiv and Lviv.
Additional footage appeared showing a mission by the Tu-95s on Saturday, April 16, over Smolensk region, also in western Russia.
The Tu-95, which first flew 70 years ago, is the only propeller-powered strategic bomber that is still in operational use.
Putin has ordered the Tu-95s to hum Britain at times of high tension, for example in February this year when the Royal Air Force scrambled Typhoon fighters to guide two Bears off northern Scotland.
With Putin’s invasion force turned back in several parts of Ukraine and the flagship of his Black Sea task force destroyed, the Russian leader has ordered one of his nuclear-capable Tu-160 strategic bombers to fly near the Ukrainian border in a threatening show of force.
The Tu-160 was escorted by an Ilyushin Il-78 aerial refueling tanker and four fighter aircraft.
Tu-160 bomber can carry a payload of 12 nuclear missiles
In February, Tu-160s reportedly fired standoff missiles at Ukrainian targets in the early phases of the war. They were also employed to launch X-101 cruise missiles at the city of Vinnytsia.
The huge swing-wing bomber – the largest presently-operational combat aircraft – can carry a payload of 12 nuclear missiles at twice the speed of sound. The Blackjack is Russia’s answer to the United States Air Force’s B-1B Lancer bomber.
Carrying conventional weapons, Tu-160s used their extraordinary 7,500-mile range to conduct raids on Syria, leveling cities held by rebel forces in a vicious campaign to support Putin’s ally Bashar al-Assad.
The huge plane was also reportedly utilized to drop the large fuel-air explosive device, known as “the Father of All Bombs,” in a weapons test on September 11, 2007.
The thermobaric weapon would be a critical option for Putin, who is desperate to crush Ukrainians’ fighting spirit but has good reasons for not yet pressing the nuclear button.
Christo Grozev, a member of the specialist news group Bellingcat, told the BBC that Putin won’t give the order to fight with nuclear weapons because he is aware of a huge number of officials unwilling to follow this command.
“Putin won’t issue an order to use nuclear weapons if he is not sure that the order will be carried out. In recent weeks, it has been argued that a large number of officers aren’t ready to carry out such orders,” Grozev told BBC’s Ukrainian news channel.
Putin has built up his offensive after the humiliating sinking of the Moskva warship on April 14.
The ship went down in the Black Sea after Kyiv said it launched a rocket strike, even though the Kremlin claimed the vessel was destroyed in an accident. The flagship missile cruiser is said to have around 500 sailors aboard.
In reprisal, eight towns were attacked – including Kharkiv and Lviv.
The appearance of the videos comes less than a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Ukrainians to prepare for a likely Russian nuclear attack and called for a stockpile of radiation pills. (Related: Russia once again warns of a possible nuclear strike against Ukraine.)
Last month, Moscow declared that it would only operate nuclear weapons if the nation’s existence is under threat. Russia’s nuclear forces were placed on high alert in the early days of the war.
Follow MilitaryTechnology.news to know more about Russia’s nuclear weapons capability.
Watch the video below to know how Russia uses its Tu-95 strategic bombers to intimidate its enemies.
This video is from the Russia Truth channel on Brighteon.com.
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