Putin taunts the West by taking a flight in Russia’s Tu-160M strategic nuclear bomber as


Vladimir Putin taunted the West by taking a joyride in a modernised supersonic Tu-160M strategic nuclear bomber today – as the Kremlin threatened nuclear war.

The despot’s stunt – which lasted around 40 minutes – appeared to be intended to enhance his macho ratings as he stands for re-election next month, and distract attention from the ‘murder’ of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in an Arctic jail.

But by flying in a type of warplane that has been used to wreak havoc in Ukraine with conventional weapons, he was sending a message that he intends to keep fighting in Ukraine, which he invaded almost two years ago.

And the huge Tu-160M – aka White Swan – is a key part of his nuclear strike force at a time when the Kremlin is bluntly warning the West over the risk of nuclear war.

Putin was seen taking off in Kazan a day after he visited a factory in the city where the Tupolev bombers are manufactured.

Vladimir Putin taunted the West by taking a joyride in a modernised supersonic Tu-160M strategic nuclear bomber today - as the Kremlin threatened nuclear war

Vladimir Putin taunted the West by taking a joyride in a modernised supersonic Tu-160M strategic nuclear bomber today – as the Kremlin threatened nuclear war

Putin is pictured boarding the TU-160M bomber in Kazan, Russia in yet another bid to taunt the West

Putin is pictured boarding the TU-160M bomber in Kazan, Russia in yet another bid to taunt the West

Putin was seen taking off in Kazan a day after he visited a factory in the city where the Tupolev bombers are manufactured 

Putin is having a two day trip to Kazan prior the 2024 Presidential Elections

Putin is having a two day trip to Kazan prior the 2024 Presidential Elections

Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin sit in a Kamaz truck in a roadside service area of M12 Vostok highway between Moscow and Kazan

Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin sit in a Kamaz truck in a roadside service area of M12 Vostok highway between Moscow and Kazan

The Tupolev Tu-160M Ilya Muromets strategic bomber is seen on the snow-covered tarmac in Kazan

The Tupolev Tu-160M Ilya Muromets strategic bomber is seen on the snow-covered tarmac in Kazan

The despot's stunt - which lasted around 40 minutes - appeared to be intended to enhance his macho ratings as he stands for re-election next month

The despot’s stunt – which lasted around 40 minutes – appeared to be intended to enhance his macho ratings as he stands for re-election next month

Putin is seen meeting with journalists after flying in the Tupolev Tu-160M strategic bomber

Putin is seen meeting with journalists after flying in the Tupolev Tu-160M strategic bomber

He clambered up a ladder at the factory to go inside the plane and spent ten minutes in the cockpit.

He then made the decision to fly himself in one of his bombers – his first flight since he took to the sky in a Tu-160 in 2005.

The giant swing-wing plane is a substantially modernised-version of a Soviet-era bomber that the USSR would have deployed in the event of a nuclear war with the West to deliver nuclear weapons at long distances.

The TU-160M is capable of carrying 12 cruise missiles or 12 short-range nuclear missiles and can fly 7,500 miles non-stop without re-fuelling.

The electioneering stunt came less than a week after a man who wanted to oust him as president – Navalny – was ‘murdered’ inside his bleak Arctic jail.

Even though the March election is expected to be rigged in Putin’s favour, he is currently more visible on state TV than he has been for years.

A breathless report on Putin-controlled Russian state TV said: ‘We just saw that the president [Vladimir Putin] again, for the second time in two days, climbed into the cockpit of a Tu-160 strategic bomber.’

On the tarmac, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had ‘made a decision to take a flight. There will be a flight [with Putin] now.’

Putin later emerged from the Tu-160M to hail the improved aircraft – the model in which he had flown – as suitable for the Russian air force.

‘The technology is excellent. It can be accepted into the Armed Forces,’ he said.

A helmeted Putin is pictured on the right in the cockpit of the strategic bomber today

Vladimir Putin speaks after flying on a modernized Tu-160M nuclear-capable strategic bomber, in Kazan, Russia

Vladimir Putin speaks after flying on a modernized Tu-160M nuclear-capable strategic bomber, in Kazan, Russia

A close-up of the Russian president shows him during a meeting with drivers in Kazan

A close-up of the Russian president shows him during a meeting with drivers in Kazan

Putin was seen taking off in Kazan a day after he visited a factory in the city where the Tupolev bombers are manufactured

Putin was seen taking off in Kazan a day after he visited a factory in the city where the Tupolev bombers are manufactured

Putin (third from left) was seen on Wednesday taking a tour of the Kazan Aviation Factory where a number of the huge Tu-160M bombers are houses

Putin (third from left) was seen on Wednesday taking a tour of the Kazan Aviation Factory where a number of the huge Tu-160M bombers are houses

Russia's President Vladimir Putin is seen in the cockpit of a Tupolev Tu-160M strategic bomber while visiting the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Plant in Kazan on February 21, 2024

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is seen in the cockpit of a Tupolev Tu-160M strategic bomber while visiting the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Plant in Kazan on February 21, 2024

His stunt came after the deputy head of the Russian security council recently warned that Putin could bomb London, Washington, Berlin and Kyiv in the event of setbacks in the war with Kyiv resulting in a retreat by Moscow’s forces.

Today he doubled down on this warning to the West, saying that Russia is even capable of starting nuclear war by accident.

Medvedev also accused Western leaders of not taking the threat seriously.

‘Sad as it may sound, this [nuclear war] scenario is real,’ said the Putin lackey and – from 2008 to 2012 – the former president of Russia.

‘We must do everything we can to prevent it from happening. But this very clock, which is ticking in a certain direction, has now accelerated very much.

‘And in this I also see the inability, excuse me, the impotence of these Western authorities.

‘[They] keep saying the same thing: ‘No, it’s the Russians who are scaring us, they will never do it’. ‘They’re wrong,’ he said ominously.

A pair of Tu-160M strategic missile carriers are seen at the Kazan Aviation Factory in Kazan during a tour of the facility by Putin on February 21, 2024

A pair of Tu-160M strategic missile carriers are seen at the Kazan Aviation Factory in Kazan during a tour of the facility by Putin on February 21, 2024

Putin signs a picture of a TU-160M nuclear bomber during a visit to the Gorbunov Aviation factory in Kazan, Russia January 25, 2018 (file photo)

Putin signs a picture of a TU-160M nuclear bomber during a visit to the Gorbunov Aviation factory in Kazan, Russia January 25, 2018 (file photo)

‘If it comes to the existence of our country, and I said this recently, what choice is left for the [Russian] leadership, for the head of state? None.’

He stressed: ‘So this is, unfortunately, a real threat, a direct and clear threat to all of humanity.

‘And secondly, there are also accidents, from which no one is immune. And the accidental, unintentional start of a nuclear conflict cannot be discounted.

‘So all these games around Ukraine are extremely dangerous.’

The US has warned allies that Russia is developing a space-based nuclear weapon designed to destroy western key satellite networks.

Such a weapon would wreak havoc with Western satellite communications, GPS, space surveillance and military command operations.

The Tu-160 strategic bomber is known to NATO as Blackjack, and can carry two dozen missiles with a total payload of 45 tons.

The Mach 2 bomber has a variable-sweep wing of the integral low-wing scheme, and a maximum takeoff weight of 275 tons.

Putin points to a map during a visit to a service station on the M12 Vostok Highway

Putin points to a map during a visit to a service station on the M12 Vostok Highway

The Russian despot was seen wandering around a cafe with officials at a roadside service area

The Russian despot was seen wandering around a cafe with officials at a roadside service area

The TU-160M is capable of carrying 12 cruise missiles or 12 short-range nuclear missiles and can fly 7,500 miles non-stop without re-fuelling

The TU-160M is capable of carrying 12 cruise missiles or 12 short-range nuclear missiles and can fly 7,500 miles non-stop without re-fuelling

The nuclear bomber dates from the 1960s but state controlled Russian TV reporting Putin’s Kazan visit eulogised the plane’s potential and claimed it was ‘a technology that many of Russia’s rivals have been unable to copy’.

Rossiya 1 channel told its viewers that the aircraft was ‘the world’s biggest warplane and fastest bomber’.

Channel One declared: ‘This aircraft right now is about 50 years ahead of everything else.’

Putin named the new plane he clambered aboard after the first president of the Tatarstan region, Mintimer Shaimiyev.



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