Something started happening to the unique IDs assigned to Russian strategic bombers. These are the big, usually red, numbers painted on the nose gear door, sometimes called "бортовой" or "тактический" number. For example, one of the Tu-95MS bombers shown taking off during the October 2023 exercise had "68 red" as its UID number (enhanced screenshot from an MoD video).

2023-11-16 Tu-95MS 68 red.jpg The problem is that this number hasn't been seen before. Piotr Butowski says that it's not the first time - the Tu-95MS shown to Kim Jong Un in Knevichi in September 2023 appears to be "79 red" and it is also not on the list (it's the 88s in the video) This may not be too big of a deal, but one problem with this is that these numbers used to serve as Unique IDs in New START (and it was, in my view, one of the clever things in the treaty). There are other way to designate an aircraft, like the RF registration number, but I have it on (very) good authority that New START used the big two-digit ones (occasionally with a third digit after a slash) to designate heavy bombers. And I had it confirmed that no one has seen the "68 red" Tu-95MS during inspections.

2023-11-16 Tu-95MS 79.jpg It is rather puzzling why would Russia start doing this. All New START inspections and data exchanges have been suspended anyway. And as far as I can tell, normally an aircraft would get this number for life. It is supposed to be a unique ID after all.

Some numbers are still there, though - for example, "49 red" and "60 red" that appeared in a recent MoD photos.