Russian bombers with nuclear capabilities have been reportedly witnessed in range of the Ukrainian border.
Oleksiy Hromov, deputy chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said in a briefing Thursday that Tu-95MS strategic bombers were sighted in the airspace of three separate regions.
In addition to being seen in Russia’s Saratov, Samara and Orenburg oblasts, they were also witnessed in the airspace over the eastern region of Russia and over the Barents Sea.
“There is a threat of enemy’s missile strikes on the critical infrastructure of Ukraine and military facilities in the nearest future,” Hromov said, according to The New Voice of Ukraine. “The aim of the enemy’s actions is to cause panic among the population to destabilize the internal situation.”
“The crews of two IL-78 long-range aircraft were practicing refueling in the air,” Hromov added. “The military transport aviation of the aggressor state performed the task of moving personnel, weapons and military equipment, stocks of material and technical means to the airfields of Millerovo, Rostov-on-Don-Central and Taganrog.”
National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said that Ukrainians should not live in constant fear of continuous missile attacks launched by Russian forces, The New Voice of Ukraine reported.
According to Tupolev, self-described as “the leading Russian company for design, manufacture and post-sale support of missile carrier bombers and special purpose aircraft,” the Tu-95MS was developed to carry long-range strategic air-launched cruise missiles.
Codenamed “Bear” by NATO , the model is a modified version of the Tu-95 aircraft. Tupolev says it is “the world’s fastest production turboprop missile carrier aircraft,” fulfilling one of the components of the nuclear triad.
It consists of four turboprop engines, with fuel placed in eight hermetically-sealed compartments. There is a single point for refueling.
In a briefing on the same day, Ukrainian Colonel Mykola Danyliuk said Russia has begun to use missiles “capable of carrying a nuclear charge.”
“The terrorist country” Russia continues to launch missile strikes on critical infrastructure facilities and civilian quarters in different Ukrainian regions, he said.
The Drive reported Wednesday that Russia and China conducted “joint patrols” over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. The Russian aircraft were identified as TU-95MS, and they reportedly landed at an undisclosed Chinese airbase thought to be located in the Zhejiang province.
It’s unconfirmed if the Russian bombers refueled there, though their presence alone inside the country may have been the first instance of the aircraft ever inside Chinese borders.
Newsweek reached out to the Ukrainian and Russian defense ministries for comment.
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