Several pictures from Russia’s recent naval aviation military drills, posted by the Russian Navy website Flot.com, have sparked hysteria in the German media.
The Germans got in a flap at the inscriptions on the modern air bombs, which were attached to Antonov An-26 military transport aircraft which participated in the bomb-dropping exercises for the first time in the last 20 years.
Two of the bombs had inscriptions which read “To Berlin!” and “For Stalin!”; these rallying cries were originally used during the Second World War by the Soviet Red Army in its fight against Nazi Germany.
What made the situation even more peculiar is that the military exercises were staged a mere 500 kilometers away from the German capital.
The German tabloid was quick to interpret the pictures as “either a hoax” of a “Putin-trained Luftwaffe”, or a “bitter insight into the Russian reality of 2015”.
“The bomb slogans such as 'To Berlin!' and 'For Stalin!' are more than pure nostalgia, but showing dangerous tendencies in the Russian leadership and army,” it wrote.
Later in the day, an anonymous source in the Russian Defense Ministry commented on the posted pictures, calling them “either someone’s stupidity, or a photomontage, or a desire to play with some anti-Russian sentiment,” according to the Russian news agency Interfax.
He added that “neither while being stored in warehouses, nor, moreover, during any training or otherwise exercises had any inscriptions whatsoever been put on any ammunition”.
He also said that no German journalists have ever been present at the latest naval aviation military exercises.
The pictures were apparently made during missile-firing and bombing exercises at shooting ranges in Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad Region in early August.
The drills involved about 15 crews of Sukhoi Su-24 (NATO reporting name: Fencer) bombers, Mil Mi-24 (Hind) gunships, Kamov Ka-27 (Helix) military helicopters and Antonov An-26 (Curl) military transport aircraft.