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Putin’s presidential plane: What we know

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When President Vladimir V. Putin travels abroad—as he did this week— North Korea and Vietnam During Russia’s war with Ukraine, he typically flew in vintage Soviet-designed Ilyushin Il-96 series jets to strengthen alliances and cultivate security ties.

Shortly before his latest trip, two other world leaders were killed in plane crashes. Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi and Saulos Chilima, Vice President of Malawi,Kremlin spokesman Recently felt the need to assure the Russian public that Putin’s aircraft are “very reliable.”

Although Russian airlines have been abandoning the Ilyushin model in favor of newer Western models, the country’s two largest airlines have not Russian Airlines and Russiawhich currently lists all Ilyushin aircraft in its commercial passenger fleet – Mr Putin appears to be sticking firmly to his promise.

Accompanied by fighter In 2023, Putin took an IL-96 on a whirlwind day trip to hold talks with the leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Earlier that year, another aircraft from the government’s IL-96 fleet was tracked stopping at airports in Washington and New York to retrieve Russian diplomat The Kremlin said the individual had been ordered to leave the United States.

In 2018, Putin flew to Finland on an Il-96 and was accused of briefly invading NATO airspace. Summit and former U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

Little information is available about Russia’s special flying squadron, also known as the 235th Independent Aviation Detachment, which is responsible for the Kremlin’s aircraft, including Il-96s, Tu-214 planes and Mi-38 helicopters. Russian state media Report The unit has 2,500 employees.

While the use of an outdated aircraft may be confusing to outsiders, Putin may be using the Soviet-designed aircraft to send a message of Russia’s resilience and strength.

“This is the musings of a czar who can launch himself into the sky with whatever equipment he wants,” said Adam Taichi Kraft, a former intelligence collection strategist at the Defense Intelligence Agency and now an adviser on national security issues.

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