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Russia debuts new missile-carrying bomber amid heightened tensions over Ukraine

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Russia’s military unveiled on Wednesday a new Tupolev Tu-160M strategic missile-carrying bomber amid heightened tensions with the US and NATO over the possibility of Moscow invading Ukraine.

The bomber, nicknamed the White Swan, performed its debut flight by Russian military pilots, state news agency TASS reported.

“The new aircraft has 80 percent of its systems and equipment modernized,” CEO of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Yury Slyusar said.

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Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said the new bomber can eventually carry what he described as “breakthrough weapons”.

The White Swan is a Russian supersonic variable-sweep wing strategic missile-carrying bomber, and it is “designated to strike enemy targets in remote areas with nuclear and conventional weapons.”

Russia’s military announcement of the new bomber comes at a time of heightened tensions with the US and NATO over the potential of Russia invading Ukraine, after Moscow amassed nearly 100,000 troops near the border with Kiev.

US and Russia have begun talks in Geneva on Monday in an effort to avoid a crisis in Ukraine, but have yet to reach any concrete results.

Meanwhile, US democrats prepared a bill which would impose extensive sanctions on Russian government and military officials, including President Vladimir Putin, if Moscow takes any hostile actions against Ukraine.

NATO has also been talking to Russia over Ukraine, in hopes to negotiate about weapons control and missile deployments but held firmly against allow Moscow to veto Ukraine's ambition to join the alliance.

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