Watch: Putin Co-Pilots Supersonic Nuclear-Capable Bomber

Russian President Vladimir Putin just sent the Western military alliance a not-so-subtle message just days after his top national security official Dmitry Medvedev warned that Moscow stands ready to use its entire strategic arsenal on London, Washington, Berlin and Kiev if Russian territory comes under direct attack from NATO.

On Thursday Putin entered the co-pilot’s seat in a nuclear-capable strategic bomber for a 30 to 40 minute flight, parts of which were filmed and quickly released by Russian state sources. Putin’s brief flight in the upgraded Tu-160M supersonic strategic bomber also comes ahead of next month’s Russian election, though of course we all know pretty much what the outcome will be. Watch below as Putin goes ‘nuclear-capable’…

The 71-year old is running as an independent candidate, interestingly enough, and the nuclear bomber ride also seems a signal of his health and capabilities, at a moment President Biden – a full decade older than his Russian counterpart – is facing serious questions over his apparent cognitive decline.

According to more details of the PR flight via AP: “On Thursday, Putin, clad in a flight suit, boarded the warplane at a snow-covered airfield of an aircraft-making plant in the Volga River city of Kazan that has built the heavy bombers since the Soviet times.”

Putin goes Top Gun-style, via Reuters

“The plant has received state orders to produce a modernized version of the Tu-160 bomber that first flew in the 1980s and was code-named Blackjack by NATO.”

Putin subsequently hailed that the new bomber he rode in was “excellent”.

More footage:

The AP report includes this amusing line as well: “As part of the Kremlin efforts to project an image of an action-loving and physically strong leader, Putin also took a co-pilot’s seat in an amphibious plane, flew a paraglider and drove a racing car and heavy trucks.”

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