VLADIMIR Putin staged a huge show of military strength today in the Baltic Sea and Pacific Ocean amid setbacks in his war in Ukraine.
In a warning to Nato, Moscow engaged an armada of over 100 warships in naval drills, while also flying two nuclear bombers over the north coast of Scotland.
Amid deep tension with the West over his war in Ukraine, the Russian despot ordered naval war games in both the Pacific Ocean and Baltic Sea.
Putin also sent two strategic nuclear bombers over the Norwegian Sea off the north coast of Scotland.
A day on from Nato kicking off its own annual naval drills in the Baltic, Russia put 40 surface warships to sea in drills that included 3,500 service personnel and 25 aircraft and helicopters.
Russia shares the sea with seven Nato countries plus soon-to-join Sweden and stated that their “operational exercise” of the Baltic fleet will last until June 15.
On Nato’s side, 6,000 personnel, 50 ships and more than 45 aircraft are currently taking part in the Baltic drills, with Finland participating for the first time as an alliance member, the United States Navy said.
Meanwhile in the Russian Far east some 6,400 miles away, more than 60 naval and support vessels and 35 aircraft were sent to undertake exercises in the seas of Japan and Okhotsk.
More than 11,000 troops were involved in these war games off Putin’s Pacific coast.
A statement from the Russian defence ministry said: “An operational exercise of all-arms forces of the [Pacific] Fleet is being held in the offshore maritime zone from June 5 to 20 under the guidance of Admiral Viktor Liina, the Fleet Commander.”
It comes as two Tu-95MS strategic nuclear missile-carrying bombers, known as “Bears”, were sent out on a five hour patrol alongside MiG-31 supersonic interceptor aircraft in the Barents and Norwegian seas.
Footage was released of the mission – seen as yet another noisy show of strength and warning to the West by Moscow.
The Tu-95s are the world’s only propeller-powered nuclear bombers and Putin has used the aircraft to launch relentless conventional attacks on Ukraine.
The drills and nuke bomber patrols come amid major setbacks to Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Today, Ukraine said its troops were advancing around Bakhmut after a fierce counter-attack seized a town on the northern flank of the besieged city forcing Russians to reportedly flee.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the Wagner mercenaries, blasted the Ukrainian victory as a “disgrace” and urged Putin’s top military chiefs to go to the frontline and see the failure for themselves.
The Kremlin dictator also appears set to experience another humiliating blow by losing territory to Russian partisans in Belgorod region.
He faces unprecedented attacks by the freedom fighters in the border regions that have sent the Kremlin panicking and decrying them as “terrorists”.
Ukraine has also been striking further into his territory and justifying such attacks as a means of defending itself against repeated assaults from Putin’s forces over more than 15 gruelling months of war.