Russia said on Wednesday it had flown two nuclear-capable TU-160 bombers to a far eastern Russian region opposite Alaska as part of a training exercise that state media said showed Moscow’s ability to park nuclear arms on the US doorstep.
The Tupolev TU-160 strategic bomber, nicknamed the White Swan in Russia, is a supersonic Soviet-era aircraft capable of carrying up to 12 short-range nuclear missiles and of flying 12,000 km non-stop without re-fueling.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement that the planes had covered a distance of more than 6,000 km in over eight hours from their home base in western Russia to deploy in Anadyr in the Chukotka region, which faces Alaska.
The flight was part of a tactical exercise that would last until the end of this week, it said, and was designed to rehearse the air force’s ability to rebase to operational air fields and to practice air-to-air refueling.
The flight comes amid heightened tensions over arms control between Moscow and Washington. The United States withdrew from a landmark nuclear missile pact with Russia this month after determining that Moscow was violating that treaty, an accusation the Kremlin denied.
On Tuesday, the Kremlin boasted that it was winning the race to develop new cutting-edge nuclear weapons despite a mysterious rocket accident last week in northern Russia that killed at least five people and caused a brief spike in radiation levels.
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