Putin’s air chiefs ‘move long-range bombers to Russia’s far east after planes hit at base closer to Ukraine’

Russian President Vladimir Putin poses as he delivers a New Year's address to the nation at the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don (SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin poses as he delivers a New Year’s address to the nation at the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don (SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin’s military chiefs have relocated long-range bombers to Russia’s far east after a base closer to Ukraine was hit destroying several aircraft, Britain said on Thursday.

The Ministry of Defence said Russia had responded to the attacks by “dispersing” the long-range planes to several airfields.

The move would further restrict the Russian president’s air campaign against Ukraine, it claimed.

In its latest intelligence update, the MoD explained: “On 27 December 2022, Oleksiyy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, reported that Russia had relocated long range aviation (LRA) Tu-95MS BEAR heavy bombers and Tu-22M3 BACKFIRE medium bombers to Russia’s far east.

“On 5 and 26 December 2022, the LRA’s Engels air base was struck and several aircraft damaged. Russia has highly likely responded to the incidents by conducting a general dispersal of LRA aircraft, especially to airfields further away from Ukraine.”

The briefing added: “The LRA will still be able to fire air launched cruise missiles into Ukraine because the weapons have a 5,000km (3,100 miles) range, in addition to the flight range of the bombers.

“However, operating from dispersal locations will add additional maintenance stress and will further deplete the limited flying hours available on these aging aircraft.”

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