Tu-160 trained pilot was going to sell his Tu-22M3 bomber to Ukraine
KYIV, UKRAINE — A few days ago, we told you the story of an attempt by Ukrainian intelligence to “buy” a Russian Su-34 fighter bomber from the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS]. In an interview with Yahoo News, a Ukrainian man identifying himself as “Bogdan” recounts in detail how for several weeks he persuaded Russian pilot Roman Nosenko to escape with his Su-34 from the conflict zone over Ukraine and hand the fighter over to Ukraine, or its western partners. Bogdan promised the pilot 1 million USD.
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Bogdan, with the help of Ukrainian intelligence, has been acting on this scheme since the beginning of the war. They are very active in the late spring and summer of 2022. Now it becomes clear, again after an interview with Bogdan, that in addition to the Su-34, the Ukrainians also tried to detain the Tu-22M3 bomber using the same scheme.
Bogdan made contact with the pilot Igor Tveritin. He is 48 years old and trained to pilot bombers. According to Yahoo News, citing Bogdan’s claims, Tveritin was trained to pilot the world’s largest strategic nuclear bomber, the Tu-160.
Bogdan also offered the Russian pilot a million dollars to “hijack” his bomber and hand it over to the Ukrainians. The scheme is pretty much the same – long calls, and a $7,000 down payment. to the Russian pilot to make sure it wasn’t a hoax. Bogdan had Tveritin confirm his intentions to hand over his Tu-22M3 by recording a short video of Tveritin holding a piece of paper with the words “377” on it.
Tveritin reportedly received the “order” to film this video in early May 2022 and fulfilled the order the same day. In a text to Bogdan, he wrote that he agreed with the conditions that were promised to him by the Ukrainian services. However, time is running out, and Ukrainians are asking for more and more information, as well as providing more and more information about the plan, tactics, where and when to take off, where to land, etc. This alarmed Tveritin, and he asked for a second advance of $50,000.
‘I don’t want to end up like Skripal’
It is not clear whether the money was transferred to him. But Tveritin was worried about his family, and as with the Nosenko case, Bogdan proposed the urgent issuance of international passports and the transportation of Tveritin’s family to Armenia or Belarus, and from there to Western Europe.
Tveriten, however, began to worry more and more. Bogdan says that on May 20, Tveritin expressed his concerns about the safety of the plan. “I don’t want to end up like Skripal,” Tveriten wrote to Bogdan. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that the Russian intelligence agency GRU poisoned the double agent Skripal in London.
The developed plan was as follows: Tveritin was supposed to take off from Crimea in the direction of southwestern Ukraine. He had to fly at a low altitude in order not to be intercepted by the radar stations of both the Russians and the Ukrainians. In western Ukraine, Ukrainian Air Force fighters were to intercept Tveritin and his Tu-22M3, then escort him away.
One of the problems was the crew – it consisted of two, sometimes three people. Tveritin intended at some point to simulate electronic problems that would force the Tu-22M3 to lower altitude and begin low-profile flight. At a later stage, Tveritin would inform his crew that they were intercepted by Ukrainian fighters and could not break away. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that the Tu-22 is not capable of air-to-air combat.
However, this plan also fails. As in the case of pilot Nosenko and his Su-34, Tveritin was discovered by the Russian FSB intelligence service. In the next moment, FSB agents started communicating with Bogdan, continuing to impersonate Tveritin. That’s what Bogdan claims.
The Tu-22M3 can fly at an altitude of 13,000 meters. Its maximum flight speed is Mach 1.88. It was developed during the time of the Soviet Union and is a structural division unit of the Russian fleet of strategic bombers.
The Tu-22M3s use powerful Kh-22M, Kh-22N, or the more advanced Kh-32 supersonic anti-ship missiles to engage targets deep in Ukraine. For the first time, the VKS used this bomber in Ukraine on April 14, launching the so-called silent bombs. Later, sometime in July, Moscow sent at least six of these bombers to Belarus, where it deployed them to support Russia’s special operation in Ukraine [a term Russia used to justify its invasion of Ukraine in February of that year].
The main task of the Russian Tu-22M3 is bombing routes used by the Ukrainians to deliver Western equipment. Judging by the fact that Ukraine continues to receive Western weapons without problems, the effectiveness of these bombers is clearly not as effective as expected in Moscow.
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