Russia relocates Tu-22M3 bombers to Kola Peninsula after drone attack

During Saturday, at least six Tu-22M3 aircraft have been relocated from the Soltsy-2 air base in Novgorod region to the Olenya air base on the Kola Peninsula.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - August 21, 2023

The Olenya Air Base south of Murmansk is again seen as a safe location for bombers from airports hit by Ukrainian drones.

Soltsy-2 was in the early morning hit by a drone. Russia’s Defense Ministry confirms the attack and says one aircraft was damaged due to a fire, Interfax reports.

A Ukrainian war blogger reports on Telegram about two Tu-22M3 being damaged.

Soltsy-2 air base is located some 650 kilometers north of Ukraine and is home to the 840th Heavy Bomber Regiment. Russia has frequently used Tu-22M3 bombers to launch attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine.

An HF radio observer publishing on Twitter under the name@olga_pp98 is tracking Russia’s strategic aviation forces. Accordingly, at least six Tu-22M3 aircraft have left Soltsy-2 for Olenya north of the Arctic Circle on Saturday.

There are a number of Tu-22M3 planes at the air base from before, but it is unclear how many of them that are operational. Mid-winter 2019, a Tu-22M3 made a terrifying hard landing in foggy weather. The plane broke in two, exploded, and killed three of the four crew members.

The airbase is located an hour drive south of Murmansk and only some 150 km from Russia’s new border with NATO. After Finland joined the Alliance on April 4, US surveillance aircraft have on several occasions had missions in the country’s northern airspace with a clear view towards the Olenya air base to the east.

Hides in the Arctic

Last fall, Russia relocated more than 10 Tu-16 and Tu-95 strategic bombers to Olenya for the very same reason after Ukrainian drones had hit the Engels air base in the Saratov region, the Barents Observer reported.

The Kola Peninsula plays a vital role in Russia’s unprovoked illegal war on its neighboring country.

Bombers from Olenya are again and again flying south to shoot cruise missiles at Ukraine. The Northern Fleet has warships participating in the Black Sea, and thousands of soldiers from the brigades in Pechenga and Alakurrti near the border to Norway and Finland are on the battlefields in eastern Ukraine.

Located in Kirkenes, Norway, just a few kilometres from the borders to Russia and Finland, the Barents Observer is dedicated to cross-border journalism in Scandinavia, Russia and the wider Arctic.

As a non-profit stock company that is fully owned by its reporters, its editorial decisions are free of regional, national or private-sector influence. It has been a partner to ABJ and its predecessors since 2016.

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