Newly deployed nuke-bombers at Kola is certainly a signalling, expert says,

Thomas Nilsen, editor of the Independent Barents Observer

The satellite images are taken by the Israeli intelligence company ImageSat International in August and September and were first published by the Jerusalem Post.

The air base in the closed town of Olenegorsk-2, an hour’s drive south of Murmansk, is normally home to a fleet of Tu-22 bombers and MiG-31 supersonic interceptors. Having the longest runway among all four operative military airports on the Kola Peninsula makes it capable of hosting the much larger nuclear bomb carriers Tu-95 and Tu-160.

The runway is 3,500 meters and one of Russia’s central storage for nuclear warheads, Bolshoye Ramozero, is nearby.  A first satellite image revealing four Tu-160 planes was taken on August 21, only days after the Northern Fleet kicked off a larger naval exercise in the Barents Sea.  Re-deploying of the strategic bombers from the Engels air base in Saratov to Olenegorsk, 1,000 km to the north, comes amid Vladimir Putin’s repeatedly nuclear saber-rattling.

Katarzyna Zysk, a professor of international relations at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, says to the Barents Observer that sending such heavy bombers north “is certainly signaling.”

It is “not necessarily connected to the war in Ukraine,” she adds, underlining the important role of the Arctic in Russia’s nuclear deterrence. Patrols out of Russian airspace by Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers were resumed by Moscow in 2008 after nearly two decades of pause in the post-Cold War period. Läs artikel