US President Donald Trump has sent three nuclear-capable B52-H bombers deep into Ukrainian airspace – in an apparent show of force to Vladimir Putin.
The provocative move comes just one day after Trump insisted that he “got on” with the Russian leader.
The 650mph B52s, which have been the backbone of America’s bomber fleet since the 1950s, flew towards Crimea before circling near the city of Melitopol, which is approximately 100 miles from disputed territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
The deadly 160-foot war machines were escorted by a flight of Ukrainian Air Force SU-27 “Flankers.”
It’s also been reported that an RAF Typhoon based out of Akrotiri in Cyprus and a number of USAF and RAF electronics warfare aircraft took part in the multilateral mission.
Observer Petri Makela told the Daily Mail that it was the most intensive spy plane activity in quite some time: “At least two USAF RC-135V/W Rivet Joint SIGINT planes recording the Russian emissions (radar, comms etc.) from Crimea and Russia as a flight of B-52H bombers circle along the Azov coast in Ukrainian airspace.”
Tensions in the region have been running dangerously high for some time.
Russian troops have been spotted massing on the Crimean peninsula and a number of missile batteries appear to have been deployed to the region.
President Putin is taking an increasingly uncompromising posture in both his foreign policy and internal affairs.
The German government says tests prove that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with nerve agent Novichok. The attempt on Navally’s life, like the 2018 Novichok poisonings in Salisbury is thought to be almost certainly the work of the Russian Secret Service.
President Trump commented on the Navalny affair, saying that he would reserve judgement before accusing the Kremlin.
”I don’t know exactly what happened. I think it’s tragic. It’s terrible; it shouldn’t happen,” he said on September 4.
“We haven’t had any proof yet, but I will take a look,” President Trump said, adding that what China is doing at the moment is “far worse.”
He concluded, “I do get along with President Putin.”