Vladimir Putin tried to intimidate the West by staging drills northern of the British Isles, in the Norwegian Sea.
The Russian military ordered its supersonic strategic bombers – Tupolev Tu-160 and Tupolev Tu22M3 – to carry out flight exercises lasting more than 13 hours.
Su-30SM and MiG-31 aircraft provided air escort to these long-range supersonic bombers, it is reported.
Moscow called the flights, which are understood to have travelled north of the Shetland Islands without entering the UK’s airspace, a “routine” exercise.
However, they may be seen as an intimidatory move and a way for Putin to flex his muscles as tensions with the West remain high due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
As stated by the Russian Defence Ministry, the bombers also flew over international waters of the Barents Sea and, most notably, the Black Sea, which is one of the main stages of the war in Ukraine.
While Kyiv’s navy doesn’t have military ships, it has been able to intimidate the Black Sea Fleet stationed in the occupied Crimean Peninsula through drone attacks and incursions.
Speaking about the operation, the Russian MoD said: “Planes of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ long-range aviation have performed routine flights in airspace over international waters of the Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea and Black Sea.
“Tu-160 strategic bombers and Tu-22M3 long-range bombers took part in the missions.”
Lieutenant-General Sergey Kobylash, commander of Russian long-range aviation, stressed all flights “were carried out in strict conformity with international rules on the use of airspace”.
The bombers used during the recent drills form the backbone of Russia’s nuclear air attack force.
While they can carry out strikes using conventional missiles and bombs, including cruise missiles, the Tu-160 and Tu22M3 are also capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
The Tupolev Tu-160 is considered the fastest bomber in use as well as the largest and heaviest supersonic, variable-sweep wing-heavy aircraft ever flown.
Much like the Tu-160, the Tupolev Tu-22M was first developed during the Soviet Union time and is a long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber.
Both these aircraft have been used by Russia during its illegal full-scale invasion of Ukraine.