Putin stages nuclear drills with ‘White Swan’ bombers close to UK waters

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Vladimir Putin held a nuclear drill with supersonic bombers just north of the Shetland Islands today, in a terrifying show of force to the West.

Newly released photos show the Tupolvev-Tu-160s – also known as White Swans – flying alongside Tupolev Tu22M3s for more than 13 hours.

The Kremlin flexed its nuclear muscles over the Black Sea and Barents Sea, escorted by Su-30SM and MiG-31 aircraft of the Russian aerospace forces and naval aircraft of the Northern Fleet.

Lt-Gen Sergey Kobylash, commander of Russian long-range aviation said: ‘All the flights were carried out in strict conformity with international rules on the use of airspace.’

The White Swans used in the flights are capable of carrying conventional missiles and bombs – and cruise missiles – as well as nuclear weapons.

The supersonic planes can reach incredible speeds (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

The Tu-160 flew across the Barents and Black Sea (Picture: TV Zvezda)

Putin’s propagandists have repeatedly demanded he should deploy tactical nuclear missiles in the conflict.

Many have also suggested striking against Western countries who are supplying weapons to Ukraine.

Moscow referred to the flights as ‘routine’, but tensions have already been rising between Russia and the West after Putin pulled out of a key nuclear testing treaty.

Russian lawmakers in the Federation Council voted to end ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in late October.

The move has worried some Western officials (Picture: TV Zvezda)

The Tu-160s are capable of flying for more than 13 hours (Picture: TV Zvezda)

The voluntary pact prohibits ‘any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion’, with some supporters saying that just having an arsenal should be enough to put off adversaries without setting off nuclear explosions.

The world’s five declared nuclear powers – the US, Britain, China, France and Russia – first signed the CNTBT in 1996.

Shortly after opting out of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Putin held a similar chilling drill.

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