Satellite saw Russian atomic bombers near the border with Norway

The Planet satellite has been observing an increase in the number of strategic aircraft at the Olenja flybase near the border with Norway for some time. The pictures clearly show the Tu-95 and Tu-160 nuclear bombers.

Russian strategic bombers in Olenja. Yellow — Tu-95. Red — Tu-160. Source: Planet Labs

Atomic bombers in the Arctic Circle

The Norwegian edition of Faktisk has published images of the Russian airbase Olenja, taken by the satellite company Planet. The pictures are dated 12.22 on October 7, GMT+3, and they clearly show Russian bombers, which were not there before.

The photos clearly show seven Tu-160 and four Tu-95 aircraft. The photo taken two days later clearly shows that one of the Tu-160 is preparing for takeoff. These aircraft can reach a speed of 2,200 km/h and cover the distance between Russia and the United States, striking missiles with nuclear warheads.

The first message about them appeared on August 21, when the first four Tu-160 were seen in the pictures. On September 25, three more Tu-95s joined them. The rest of the aircraft appeared at the airbase in the last days of September or the first days of October.

The Tu-160 is preparing for takeoff. Source: Planet Labs

What explains the activity of strategic aviation

Usually both Tu-95 and Tu-160 are based at the Engels Airbase near Saratov. There are only a couple of planes directly in Olenja. Experts from the Norwegian Air Force, who closely monitor the movement of Russian aviation, do not exclude that its activity may be related to the war in Ukraine.

Even the atomic bombers themselves, located on the border with a NATO member country, are an element of nuclear blackmail that Putin launched against the United States and its allies in connection with the numerous defeats in the war with Ukraine. Consequently, no one can rule out that these planes use their deadly weapons against cities in Western Europe and North America.

At the same time, the appearance of strategic aviation in Olenja may simultaneously be associated with the war in Ukraine and not mean an immediate nuclear threat. The fact is that it is beyond the Arctic Circle that there is a large composition of non-nuclear cruise missiles used by Russia in this war. And the military of the aggressor country could decide that it would be easier to arm their aircraft with them right there, it would be faster and cheaper than first transporting them by rail to Engels.

Training that can escalate into a global war

Finally, experts draw attention to the fact that the appearance of nuclear bombers in the north came true with the statement of the Russian military about the start of large-scale exercises, which they traditionally hold in the autumn with the involvement of not only aviation, but also the forces of their Northern Fleet.

Tu-160 strategic bomber. Source: Forsvaret

They traditionally include the Grom («Torden») program, in which it is the strategic troops that participate. However, the Norwegian military has no illusions that these exercises are exclusively defensive in nature. It is known that in 2021, Russia postponed the exercises of its strategic aviation to February 2022, just a week before the start of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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