Russia has staged a massive “assault” exercise in Crimea with more than 40 warships and 30 jets taking part in a terrifying display of strength.
The war games included missile launches, exercise bombings and simulated landings with footage released by the Defense Ministry TV channel Zvezda.
This is the latest of major military exercises conducted by Putin this year.
A Russian military spokesman said the forces conducted “fake hostilities” involving “entered armed groups (Crimea)” with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks and destabilizing the situation in other areas of the Southern Federal District.
“Coastal troops of the Black Sea Fleet took practical action to secure the anti-sabotage defense of a portion of the coast and fought alongside naval assault groups and naval landing forces,” a Black Sea Fleet statement said.
Among the participating ships was the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, Moskva, while Kamov Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters were also on display.
A Russian defense source said: “The terrorists were blocked by forces of motorized rifle units of the Army Corps with the support of the Strategic Air Assault Forces.”
Reports said that around 8,000 soldiers and around 500 military vehicles were involved in the exercise.
Military drones Forpost and Orlan-10 were deployed in the exercise.
The show of strength was part of large-scale Southern Military District military operations involving Russian troops based in Abkhazia, Armenia and South Ossetia, as well as the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla.
Crimea was annexed by Russia from Ukraine 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.
An FSB Security Service Coast Guard vessel opened fire in the direction of a UK warship, claiming that the vessel had sailed into Russian territorial waters.
Moscow also claimed that bombs were dropped from a Su-24 warplane to push the British ship off the Crimean coast.
This was followed by a major diplomatic incident in which Boris Johnson described the show of support for Ukraine as “absolutely correct”.
But there were Russian threats to sink the next Royal Navy battleship into the same waters.
It comes as China has become a leader in the hypersonic arms race as world powers battle for the next generation of nuclear weapons.
The revelations that Beijing has flown nuclear-capable missiles around the world throws down a weapon for other countries pursuing hypersonics, including the US, Russia and North Korea.
US intelligence was reportedly stunned after China launched a rocket into space carrying a planet-orbiting hypersonic glide vehicle before it could accelerate toward its target.
The next generation of weapons could hit speeds of up to 21,000 mph – and potentially even faster – and is seen as a devastating new frontier for warfare.
China – then Russia – was already regarded as having the most powerful hypersonic missile arsenal, pouring in billions, but others were seen as catching on.
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