Ukraine’s Lost Strategic Bomber Fleet

After 1991, Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons, but then also lost its strategic bomber force, enabling it to conduct long-range cruise missile and bombing missions. So what became of the Backfire, Blackjack and Bear bombers.

Dr. Mark Felton is a well-known British historian, the author of 22 non-fiction books, including bestsellers ‘Zero Night’ and ‘Castle of the Eagles’, both currently being developed into movies in Hollywood. In addition to writing, Mark also appears regularly in television documentaries around the world, including on The History Channel, Netflix, National Geographic, Quest, American Heroes Channel and RMC Decouverte. His books have formed the background to several TV and radio documentaries. More information about Mark can be found at:

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Disclaimer: All opinions and comments expressed in the ‘Comments’ section do not reflect the opinions of Mark Felton Productions. All opinions and comments should contribute to the dialogue. Mark Felton Productions does not condone written attacks, insults, racism, sexism, extremism, violence or otherwise questionable comments or material in the ‘Comments’ section, and reserves the right to delete any comment violating this rule or to block any poster from the channel.

Credits: US National Archives; Library of Congress; Michael; Stefan Krasnowski; Jno; Kobel; George Chernilevsky
Thumbnail: Dmitry Terekhov

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Comment (0)

  1. WOW! VERY interesting! … Hope someone responsible for USA military is paying attention! .. Russia is sure ready! I wonder if you could do a similar video for China air force? .. Maybe NOT .. no one in the west will sleep!

  2. What Felton is saying is that the US secured the disarmament for the West while leaving Ukraine undefended. I wonder if some day, Russia will attack Ukraine using the weapons it sold?

  3. A certain poetic justice attached to this mixture of awe and woe. A destructive advance in technology with a certain air of amazement! Destruction has not ever been justified; regardles; of what side you are on! Remenber!!!!!!!!! it is easier to make war than peace! Its instilled in all of us. Behold! the tree that bears the fruit/ /Jesus. Peace on to all of unknowning! Disarming all is the key to peace! Still we all continue! I welcome it! I challenge all brass! on both sides! If either wins WHAT are you going to inherit????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  4. Why isn't anyone selling strategic bombers on the open market because their strategic bombers genius they are the modern equivalent of battleships powerful it's not something you would sell to a rival Nation you're basically giving someone a pistol that shoot your stupid head with it is kind of annoying for people

  5. Would have been important to share the nuclear weapons they had were useless at the time without Russia.
    Felt it was a little demeaning to bring up “would Russia have invaded if Ukraine didn’t throw this away” after every introduction.

  6. Outstanding as always.

    Please make a series about the 70s / 80’s African Bush Wars next. The forgotten wars, with a focus on the specialised counter insurgency units involved would make for amazing content.

  7. Shaking my head at this. Hindsight is a great thing but that said, this is a salutary lesson in never putting National security in the hands of other nations.

    There is no guarantee all these aircraft would have survived sneak attacks by the Russians who would certainly have made them prime targets for first strike. However, significant numbers of the Ukrainian airforce have survived and if even a fraction of these were still in use today, the Russians would undoubtedly be on the receiving end of an even bloodier nose than they have received to-date.

    Considering what the Ukrainian Airforce has done so far including a raid on a Russian oil refinery by two helicopters, they have clearly shown the Russians what they can do if they have the right tools to finish the job.

    No wonder the Russians are terrified of the prospect of transfers of ex soviet aircraft from other European countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Cyprus

  8. I believe former US marine corps intelligence officer Scott Ritter was involved in the decommissioning of nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe.

    He also gives an interesting analysis and interpretation of the current conflict.

  9. it the usa that interfered in ukraine making russia and ukraine hate each other cia stirring up animosities from the past. if you look at the statistics as much as communism was a failed ideology ukraine was better off when they were in the soviet union they never had ukrainian women trafficked in the soviet era

  10. As I understand it, as part of the agreement, the West agreed to defend Ukraine in the event of attack. We should honour that promise.

  11. This wouldn’t have happened if nato didn’t increasingly push up on Russian boarders. Also if the Minsk agreement was adhered to. Yet another mouthpiece for the western narrative

  12. Mark please make sure when talking about an aircraft's top speed in km/h you mention what altitude it could achieve such speed if you can find such information, as it gives a better idea as to actual performance.. especially closer to the ground most aircraft of the time could not break mach 1.2 or around 1500kph indicated air.. this is because of higher drag at low altitude and structural integrity coming into question alot more. Great video though as always!

  13. lol….blackmailed by the NWO to destroy its ability to defend itself….of course, if the thug government of Ukraine had them, they could deliver the BioWeapons they’ve been developing jointly for the CIA….

  14. I feel sorry for the average Russian I suspect 99.9% of Russians alive today and since the 1720’s ( ish ) have made absolutely nothing in life for there citizenship of that country. They have rich politicians and oligarchs, and the rest have nothing. What military hardware actually works who knows.

  15. Ukraine gave up its Russian equipment so why did it not get Western Equipment to replace it if it wanted to defend itself or was it hoping the West would come to its rescue and see off the bad Russians.

  16. Yes, it would be a very serious economic burden to maintain 1,600 nuclear weapons. But not so much of a burden to only maintain, say, 2% of them or 32 nuclear weapons. That would have been enough to deter Russia.

  17. There’s no reason whatsoever that Russia couldn’t completely conquer Ukraine within a couple of days. They have a million troops. They could conquer all of Europe within the time this so called conflict started.

  18. Yup. Ukraine is an example of why you should never ever listen to the west and their trickery. The NPT was their idea, and they were the ones who later backtracked on the terms of the Budapest Agreement saying it wasnt really binding. The thing is they tricked Ukraine into giving up the weapons already THEN telling everyone including russia that the agreement wasnt really binding. Russia then moved to violate the terms because both US and UK basically said nobody is bound by the agreement.

    In short, Ukraine literally lost its defenses and nuclear deterrence for mere scraps of paper. Poor Ukraine.

  19. 1:23 No Dr. Felton, Ukraine never at any time had any control over the use of the nuclear weapons. At all times at it's existence Moscow retained complete command and control capabilities. Ukrainians never at any time whatsoever had any nuclear capability without Moscow's direct instruction and supervision. They simply couldn't be repurposed to be used for themselves. Cursory research shows this and I'm disappointed.

  20. Great video. I knew they gave up their nukes, but I had no idea they trade most of their Air Force for oil debt relief. What armed forces would agree to such a thing?

    I guess Ukraine.

  21. Probably for the best. Ukraine would have been dumping millions into maintaining planes and training crews on an obsolete platform instead of training light infantry forces and producing defensive weaponry. The bombers would have been targeted first by Russia and would have proven a liability.

  22. What a species we are if looked from the outside in. No man made conflict rule needs a change of mindset. The public now suffer Menticide daily and we are sleep walking into a nightmare made by us on our watch.

  23. Didn't they used to build the SS-18 ICBMs in Ukraine? It would be interesting to see if they still have the equipment to build them. Although without nuclear MIRVs it would just be a like a very large V-2 rocket from the time of WW2. Even at that it would probably be too dangerous or provocative to use. 🤔

  24. The cliches "learning from our mistakes" and "history repeats itself" are contradictory, in my opinion. At the time they are made, strategic actions appear to make sense. Only later do we realize that they were ill thought out and short sighted. A risk analysis may have lead to a different conclusion and outcome. There is no doubt in my mind that Russia will pay dearly in the near and long term future for their actions in Ukraine. What we are witnessing is the cold war in action. In fact, the USSR never really disappeared as Russia's leadership today is the junior class that had Brezhnev and Andropov as role models.

  25. I would say that if Ukraine had retained the bombers, most would have been destroyed on the ground in the initial missile and bomber strikes on Ukraine's airfields.

  26. Ukraine could really do with some tools to attack the supply lines and strategic points inside Russia, being used at this theme to move troops and supplies towards the Donbas and the south.

  27. The lesson is … all this military gear is expensive. You need money to buy it but maybe even more and maintain it. Wars are won with money.

  28. The west just played straight in to putins hands didn’t they promising to protect Ukraine in in the 94 treaty and then basically reneging on our commitments the powers to b should hang there heads watching the Ukrainians being slaughtered by putins scum puppets and a lesson learned u can’t trust the Russians nor I’m afraid us lot in the west if there’d have kept them weapons I guarantee the crazy wouldn’t have invaded

  29. I always thought those Tupolev planes were some of the most interesting flying in any military. Ukraine was foolish to give up all those legacy military bombers and nuclear strike capabilities as is being proven out now. Perhaps they could have struck a bargain with the West to maintain a smaller amount of both citing concerns with Russian aggression and still receive aide when needed from the US. I don't think Russia would risk invasion into Ukraine today even if they had maintained a fraction of the nuclear power they once held. He argues in this video that they would have had a hard time financially maintaining what was left, but they probably could have maintained a smaller arsenal and the chance that they could nuke Moscow just once would probably have been enough to stave off the kind of sh*tshow currently unfolding in Ukraine.

  30. It's all a little bit cruel isn't it?…. Take away the bombers and missiles that could be used to defend itself, take aways it insurance policy of nuclear weapons, buy the oil from the aggressor and donate a fraction of what is spent on oil for military aid…. Even though supposedly the more sophisticated and grown up neighbour is allowed all of it's weapons and behaves in a monstrous way.

  31. If the Ukrainian air force still had these planes, Russia would have spent far more effort into bombing all the Ukrainian airfields once the attack was underway. Still it's a shame the US had to stick its nose into an other countries business beyond making them remove their nukes. But for the point that old aircraft still have a use in modern warfare, I give you both the B52 and C130.

  32. Your channel provides a wealth of knowledge and information. Each video is brain-candy to feed my curious mind. Thank you for your time and efforts!

  33. If Ukraine would have maintained their strategic bomber fleet? Nonsense. As you mention, you first need a functioning economy and well funded military and infrastructure in order to have certain levels of weapons in tip top shape. The Oligarch's who ate up Ukraine after the early 90's rundown the Ukrainian economy only to benefit themselves till very recently and am sure the richest people in Ukraine didn't give two sh*ts about the state of their military force. Until now. Hopefully Ukraine will rise from the ashes to be a very different nation so they don't find themselves having to sell state assets to pay energy bills. Did I hear mineral wealth under Ukraine? Hellooo western capitalists. Someone will have to pay for the reconstruction, defence, etc and I doubt it will be a crowed funding type of generous efforts. by the West. Either way, our gravest human error is to keep building these weapons instead of you know, stopping climate change and focus all efforts there or something?

  34. Lesson is: don't give up your nukes – which is precisely why NK wants to become a nuclear power. The world didn't back up Ukraine early enough and Germany lost its sovereignty to Russian energy. Maybe a retrospective as regards Merkel's decisions is needed?

  35. Ukrainians should ask their politicians from that time how it was possible that they disarmed their country so much. Answer is simple, at that time Ukraine was ruled by Russian spies and agents. Russians were already preparing for today’s war with Ukraine. This is so painful lesson to be learned.

  36. Russia had always an impressive know-how in aerospace engineering. No wonder they were the first to put a man in orbit. They could obliterate Ukraine if not for the extraordinary resistance of its people, bad strategy, and the reaction of the West. The war if not over, though. I fear it can escalate to unforeseen dangerous levels.

  37. Thanks to loser Bill Clinton. And the security agreement Clinton & Russia signed off on in 1994, where is it? Why can't America enforce that agreement & stop this war. And the reason is; Clinton was a yellow-belly skirt chasing Democrat and Joe Biden is a neck sniffing senile Democrat but they let women kill unwanted babies, so they are praised. You voted for Joe, you have blood on your hands, whether you like it or not. You are complicit in what is going on here & there but there is one who sees all & His name is not Santa Clews.

  38. Don't forget until the Euromaiden revolution Ukraine was a Russian puppet so maybe not so stupid that the military reduced.

    Sad to give Russia nuclear weapons and cruise missiles though, better to sell them elsewhere (Georgia, Lithuania, Poland).

    Sad that Russia promised not to attack Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine destroying it's deterrent.


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