Russia "tests" air defence systems in occupied Crimea amid NATO, Ukraine Black Sea drill

News
Canan Kevser
30 June 2021, 11:35
Canan Kevser
30 June 2021, 11:35

Russia on Tuesday tested its air-defence systems deployed in occupied Crimea, amid joint military drills in the Black Sea by Ukraine and NATO countries.

The Sea Breeze exercise kicked off on Monday amid rising tensions between Russia and the West following an incident last week involving Russia and a British warship off the coast of Crimea.

Russia's Black Sea fleet said on June 29 that it had deployed around 20 aircraft and helicopters, including Su-24M bombers, as well as S-400 and Pantsir surface-to-air missile systems in the readiness tests.

"The Black Sea Fleet is doing a number of things to monitor the actions of ships from NATO and other countries taking part in Sea Breeze 2021," the National Defence Management Center said.

Sea Breeze 2021

A total of 32 countries, including most Black Sea nations, NATO allies, and partners are attending the Sea Breeze exercise co-hosted by Ukraine and the United States.

The exercise includes 5,000 troops, 32 ships, 40 aircraft, and 18 special operations and dive teams and will last through July 10.

Background

Russia claimed on June 23 that it fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British warship to chase it out of Black Sea waters off the coast of Crimea.

Britain's Defense Ministry denied the HMS Defender had been fired upon, saying that Russia was carrying out a previously announced "gunnery exercise" in the area. Britain said it was practising freedom of navigation in Ukrainian and international waters.

In response to the incident, Moscow "warned" that it was prepared to fire on warships entering territorial waters it claims around Crimea.

Russia had occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 after sending in troops and staging a sham referendum dismissed as illegal by at least 100 countries. Moscow is also backing separatists in a war in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014.