BRAZEN Vladimir Putin sent his supersonic strategic bombers close to the UK in a chilling nuclear drill.
Footage shows the Tupolev Tu-160s – known as White Swans – and Tupolev Tu22M3s in flight over the Norweigan Sea.
The jets flew close to northern Britain during exercises that lasted more than 13 hours as Russia attempted to flex the Kremlin's nuclear muscle.
They also went over the Black Sea – part of the war zone of Putin's conflict in Ukraine – and the Barents Sea.
The Tu-160 strategic missile-carrying bombers and Tu-22M3 long-range supersonic bombers are a key part of Russia’s nuclear strike force.
Air escort was provided by Su-30SM and MiG-31 aircraft of the Russian aerospace forces and naval aircraft of the Northern Fleet.
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Moscow called the flights “routine” but they come amid high tensions between Russia and the West over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The routing involved flying to the north of the Shetland Islands, it is understood.
The Russian defence ministry said: "Planes of the Russian Aerospace Forces' long-range aviation have performed routine flights in airspace over international waters of the Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea and Black Sea.
“Tu-160 strategic bombers and Tu-22M3 long-range bombers took part in the missions."
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Lt-Gen Sergey Kobylash, commander of Russian long-range aviation, added: ”All the flights were carried out in strict conformity with international rules on the use of airspace.”
Long-range aviation warplanes constitute the air component of Russia's nuclear triad, but they can also carry out strikes using conventional missiles and bombs, including cruise missiles.
Putin's propagandists have repeatedly demanded he should deploy tactical nuclear missiles in the conflict – or against Western countries supplying modern arms to Kyiv, a threat also voiced by some Russian officials.
The Tu-160 – also known as Blackjack – is a Russian supersonic variable-sweep wing strategic missile-carrying bomber dating from the Soviet era.
The Tu-22M3 planes have been used to strike Ukraine with conventional weapons.
It comes after Putin readied his deadly 20,000mph "meteorite" hypersonic missile for combat.
The nuclear-capable weapon can be fired outside the earth's atmosphere before striking anywhere in the world in less than 30 minutes.
It is the only weapon of its kind in the world and Putin has warned the West possesses no means to stop it.
The missile with its Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle was seen being installed in an underground launch silo at the base of the 31st Missile Army in Russia's Orenburg region.
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