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Ukraine conflict: Russia relocates bombers to Far East as Ukraine targets western bases

A file photo of a Tu-95 ‘Bear' bomber. Due to recent attacks on Engels-2 airbase in western Russia, Tu-95s stationed there have reportedly been relocated to Ukrainka-Seryshevo airbase in the Far East region of the country. (Crown Copyright)

Russia has reportedly relocated some of its strategic bomber aircraft to the Far East region of the country following Ukrainian strikes on its western airbases.

As many as six Tupolev Tu-95 ‘Bear' aircraft from Russian Aerospace Forces' (VKS') Long-Range Aviation (LRA) are reported by Ukrainian government sources to have been transferred from Engels-2 airbase to Ukrainka-Seryshevo airbase, following two attacks in recent weeks.

While Engels-2 is 600 km east of Ukrainian-controlled territory, Ukrainka-Seryshevo is approximately 6,000 km away and closer to Japan than to Ukraine. The base in the Amur Oblast region of Russia is home to the 326th Heavy Bomber Division, 182nd Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment that also fields the Tu-95, although typically for operations in the Pacific region.

The dispersal of bombers forces to the east was forced on the VKS by a series of Ukrainian air attacks on its western region airbases in general, and on Engels-2 in particular. Engles-2 is home to Tu-95 and Tu-160 ‘Blackjack' bombers of the LRA, and has been a launch pad for stand-off Kh‐101, Kh-55, and Kh‐555 cruise missile attacks against Ukraine.

The base was attacked on 5 and 26 December, resulting in killed personnel and damaged Tu-95s. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Russian Federation ascribed the attacks to unmanned aerial vehicles “of Soviet design”, indicating that it believed them to be Tupolev Tu-141 ‘Strizh' or Tu-143 ‘Reys' reconnaissance drones that Ukraine inherited in 1991, and which it understood to have been used as strike weapons.

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