Russian President Putin flies nuclear-capable bomber

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MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday flew an upgraded Tu-160M missile carrier, Kremlin said in an official statement.

The plane took off from the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Plant which Putin visited the day before. The flight lasted about 30 minutes, it added.

Putin’s short flight on a supersonic bomber was seen as part of his pre-election effort to project confidence and power inside Russia, and a stark reminder to the West of his country’s nuclear capabilities, The New York Times reported.

The extensive range of the Tu-160M, also called the White Swan in Russia, enables it to carry 20 nuclear weapons and reach the United States.

Putin, aged 71, was featured on Russian state television ascending the stairs beneath the colossal warplane, one of the world’s largest and heaviest, before it departed from an airfield in Kazan, located to the east of Moscow.

The Kremlin released a video of Putin seated in the pilot’s seat during the flight. After landing, Putin informed reporters that the experience was positive and commended the new upgraded bomber was “very reliable”.

According to Dmitry S Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, Putin decided impromptu on Thursday to take the flight during his visit to an aviation factory in Kazan, where he examined four upgraded Tu-160M bombers, according to The New York Times.

However, over his more than two decades as the Russian president, Putin has gained a reputation for engaging in staged events aimed at portraying him as a robust leader of a significant power.

Over the years, Putin has engaged in attention-grabbing activities such as flying a fighter jet, submersible sea plunges and guiding Siberian cranes in a motorized hang glider to their winter habitat. These widely publicised stunts are aimed to portray Putin as a physically fit and fearless leader. The recent bomber flight seemed to convey a deliberate message during the intense geopolitical conflict between Moscow and the West, the most severe since the Cold War era.

The Tu-160M, an upgraded Soviet-designed strategic bomber and part of the Russian nuclear triad, is primarily tasked with delivering nuclear bombs over long distances in the event of a nuclear war. Putin had previously taken a flight in an older version of the bomber in 2005, as reported by The New York Times. (ANI)

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