Four Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-35S fighters flanked the official Ilyushin-96 flight Wladimir Putin from Moscow to Abu Dhabi. The capital of the United Arab Emirates was the first stop of the Russian president’s regional Gulf tour, which also took him to neighboring Saudi Arabia, with the backdrop of Israel’s Gaza war and COP28.
The Russian Defense Ministry released a video showing the Su-35S fighter jets escorting the presidential plane throughout the flight. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, explained at a press conference that special permits had been obtained from the countries involved for the Su-35S fighters to accompany the official Ilyushin-96 aircraft. According to Peskov, the measure complies with standard security protocols for presidential international visits.
Putin’s press secretary thanked Riyadh and Abu Dhabi for their cooperation in this regard, a seemingly insignificant sign that shows the good state of their bilateral relations. In fact, analysts have interpreted Putin’s regional trip as an attempt by the Kremlin to overcome the international isolation he faced due to the invasion of Ukraine by Western countries.
The Sukhoi Su-35 is a state-of-the-art 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. Designed for air superiority missions, the Su-35 is known for its agility, advanced avionics and powerful engines.
It is equipped with powerful engines, the Saturn AL-41F1S turbofans, which offer a high thrust-to-weight ratio. It also has a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons, including a range of guided and unguided munitions.