Russia launches Mediterranean drills in the middle of the rift with UK | Russia news

The exercises came days after Moscow said it fired warning shots at a British warship in the Black Sea.

The Russian army has launched sweeping maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea with warplanes capable of carrying hypersonic missiles, a show of force amid rising tensions following an incident with a British destroyer in the Black Sea.

Moscow said one of its warships fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs on the route of British destroyer Defender on Wednesday to force it out of an area near Crimea that Russia claims as territorial waters. Britain denied this claim, insisting its ship was not fired and said it was sailing in Ukrainian waters.

Russian drills started Friday in the eastern Mediterranean come when a strike group of British carriers is in the area.

Earlier this week, British and American F-35 fighters from HMS Queen Elizabeth flew sorties of combat against the ISIL group (ISIS).

Russia has been waging a military campaign in Syria since September 2015, allowing the government of President Bashar al-Assad to regain control of most of the country after a devastating civil war.

The Russian Defense Minister said that a pair of MiG-31 fighters capable of carrying Kinzhal hypersonic missiles have arrived at the Russian air base in Syria for the exercise. Hemeimeem Air Base, in the coastal province of Latakia, serves as the main center for Moscow operations in the country.

It is the first time that warplanes capable of carrying Kinzhal have been moved beyond Russian borders.

The army says the Kinzhal flies at 10 times the speed of sound and has a range of up to 2,000 km (about 1,250 miles).

The defense minister said the maneuvers in the eastern Mediterranean involved several warships, two submarines and Tu-22M3 long-range bombers along with other fighter jets.

The nuclear-powered supersonics, Tu-22M3, were first deployed in Syria last month at a rally of an augmented Russian military post in the Mediterranean.

The Russian army modernized the runway at Hemeimeem to accommodate heavy bombers and built a second one to extend operations there.

Russia has also expanded and modified a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus, the only such structure it currently has outside the former Soviet Union.

The Russian military has increased the number and scope of its exercises amid bitter tensions in relations with the West, which have sunk to post-Cold War lows following the 2014 Moscow annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. of Crimea.

As part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to bolster the Russian army, the navy of recent years has revived the Soviet-era practice of constantly turning its warships into the Mediterranean.

Speaking to reporters Sunday aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, Commodore Steve Moorhouse said the eastern Mediterranean has become more “congested and disputed” with Russia’s heavier military presence in Syria, resulting in regular clashes with ships and planes. Russian war.

He noted that a Russian warship was arriving 16 km (10 miles) from the carrier.

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