Four Sukhoi Su-35S fighters of the Russian Air Force flanked the official flight of the Ilyushin-96 carrying Vladimir Putin from Moscow to Abu Dhabi. The capital of the United Arab Emirates was the first stop on a regional tour of the Gulf by the Russian president that has also taken him to neighboring Saudi Arabia, with Israel’s war in Gaza and COP28 as a backdrop.
The Russian Ministry of Defense published a video in which the Su-35S fighters can be seen escorting the presidential plane throughout the flight. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, explained at a press conference that it had been necessary to obtain special authorizations from the countries involved for the Su-35S fighters to accompany the official Ilyushin-96 aircraft. The measure responds, according to Peskov, to standard security protocols for the president’s international visits.
Putin’s press secretary thanked Riyadh and Abu Dhabi for their collaboration in this regard, an apparently minor sign that shows the good state of their bilateral relations. Analysts have, in fact, interpreted Putin’s regional tour as an attempt by the Kremlin to abandon the international isolation to which it has been subjected by Western countries due to its invasion of Ukraine.
The Sukhoi Su-35 is a highly advanced fourth-generation fighter aircraft, manufactured in Russia and developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau. It is an improved version of the previous Su-27 Flanker and is part of the Flanker family. The Su-35 is designed for air superiority missions and is known for its agility, advanced avionics and powerful engines.
It is equipped with powerful engines, the Saturn AL-41F1S turbofans, which provide a high thrust-to-weight ratio. It also has a wide variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, including a range of guided and unguided munitions.