RUSSIA has staged massive “invasion” drills in Crimea with more than 40 warships and 30 jets taking part in a terrifying show of strength.
The war games involved missile launches, practice bombings and simulated landings with footage released by Defence Ministry TV channel Zvezda. Helicopters flying over a huge Russian warship during the drills
The Saratov large landing ship takes part in the exercise in Crimea
Several tanks land on the beach during the war games
Russian soldiers handle a drone
This is the latest in a succession of major military exercises ordered by Putin this year.
A Russia military spokesperson said forces conducted “simulated hostilities” involving “mock armed groups entered (Crimea) with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks and destabilising the situation in other regions of the Southern Federal District”.
“The coastal troops of the Black Sea Fleet worked out practical actions to secure anti-sabotage defence of a section of the coast and fought with naval assault groups and naval landing forces,” said a Black Sea Fleet statement.
Among the ships taking part was the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship the Moskva while the Kamov Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters were also on display.
A Russia defence source said: “The militants were blocked by the forces of motorised rifle units of the army corps with the support of tactical airborne assault forces.”
Reports said the exercises involved some 8,000 soldiers and around 500 military vehicles.
Military drones Forpost and Orlan-10 were deployed in the drills.
The show of strength was part of the large-scale Southern Military District military operations including Russian troops based in Abkhazia, Armenia and South Ossetia plus the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla.
Crimea was annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014.
In June, Russia opened fire when the Royal Naval destroyer HMS Defender sailed close to Crimea in a deliberate act of support for Ukraine.
A FSB security service coastguard vessel fired shots in the direction of the UK warship, claiming the vessel had sailed into Russian territorial waters.
Moscow also claimed to have dropped bombs from an Su-24 warplane in a bid to push the British ship away from the Crimean coast.
A major diplomatic incident followed in which Boris Johnson defended the show of support for Ukraine as “entirely right”.
But there were Russian threats to sink the next Royal Navy warship to sail in the same waters.
Raptor patrol boats take part in the drills
Around 8,000 soldiers took part in the war games
This comes as China appears to have taken a lead in the hypersonic arms race as the world’s powers battle it out for the next generation of nuclear weapons.
Revelations that Beijing flew a nuclear-capable missile around the globe throws down a gauntlet to the other nations chasing hypersonics including the US, Russia and North Korea.
US intelligence were reportedly left stunned after China launched a rocket in space carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle which circled the planet before before speeding towards its target.
The next generation of weapons can hit speeds of up to 21,000mph – and potentially even faster – and are seen as devastating new frontier for warfare.
China – followed closely by Russia – were already regarded as having the most potent hypersonic missile arsenals pouring billions into them but others had been seen as catching up.