Two Russian strategic Tu-160 bombers
(NATO reporting name: Blackjack) have carried out a 4.5-hour flight over the territory of Belarus for the purposes of "maintaining the security of the Union State [of Russia and Belarus]". The bombers also flew alongside Belarusian Air Force Su-30SMs, which practised covering the strategic aircraft during the mission.
The Russian Defence Ministry stressed that the flight, conducted on 11 November, was not targeted against any foreign nation. It also released the footage of the Tu-160s' flight.
The flight took place amid a migrant crisis developing along the border of Belarus and Poland, sparking concerns that the two events might be related. Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy stressed that it, as well as a 10 November flight by Russian Tu-22M3 bombers
over Belarus, were reconnaissance missions.
Polyanskiy further noted that the flights were carried out in response to the recent developments on the Union State's border, referring to the military buildup on the Polish side of the border with Belarus. In addition to Warsaw's actions, prompted by illegal migrants' attempts to breach the border, Kiev has also announced the deployment of 8,500 troops to the border with Belarus.
Poland, as well as other EU states, rushed to accuse Belarus of causing the migrant crisis, with some also groundlessly shifting part of the blame on Russia. Both Minsk and Moscow denied fostering the surge of migrants on the Belarus-Poland border, most of whom are Kurds from Iraq. Despite that, the EU is considering imposing additional economic sanctions on Belarus over the latter purportedly waging a "hybrid war" using migrants.