In Photos: Russia sends warplanes to Syria for huge naval drills in Mediterranean Sea

AP , Tuesday 15 Feb 2022

The Russian military on Tuesday deployed long-range nuclear-capable bombers and fighter jets carrying state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles to its airbase in Syria for massive naval drills in the region amid soaring tensions with the West over Ukraine.

Russian Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Syria
In this photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, Russian Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu , center, speaks to one of officers near an MiG-31 fighter of the Russian air force carrying a Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missile parked at the Hemeimeem airbase in Syria. The Russian military deployed additional warplanes to its airbase in Syria as part of massive naval drills in the Mediterranean. AP

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Syria to oversee the drills that mark the biggest Russian naval deployment to the Mediterranean Sea since the Cold War times.

Shoigu met with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday to inform him about the drills and discuss plans for further military-technical cooperation.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. AP

The Defense Ministry said the exercise in the eastern Mediterranean that involves 15 warships and about 30 aircraft is part of a series of sweeping naval drills that started last month amid a standoff over Ukraine.

It said the maneuvers were intended to train for action to ``protect national interests'' and ``fend off military threats against the Russian Federation.''

Long-range, nuclear-capable Tu-22M3 bombers and MiG-31 fighter jets carrying the latest Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles landed at the Russian airbase of Hemeimeem in Syria's coastal province of Latakia as part of the drills.


In this photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, A Tu-22M3 bomber of the Russian air forces is seen parked at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria. The Russian military deployed additional warplanes to its airbase in Syria as part of massive naval drills in the Mediterranean.  AP

The military says the Kinzhal has a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (about 1,250 miles) and flies at 10 times the speed of sound, making it hard to intercept.

The deployment of Kinzhal missiles to Syria appears to be intended to showcase the Russian military's capability to threaten the US carrier strike group in the Mediterranean.


In this photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, An MiG-31 fighter of the Russian air force carrying a Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missile is parked at the Hemeimeem airbase in Syria. The Russian military deployed additional warplanes to its airbase in Syria as part of massive naval drills in the Mediterranean.  AP

The Defense Ministry said the Russian navy chief reported to Shoigu that the drills envisaged practice in targeting enemy warships.

The Hemeimeem air base has served as Russia's main outpost in Syria, where it has waged a military campaign in Syria since September 2015, allowing Assad's government to reclaim control over most of the country after a devastating civil war.

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

The massive Russian naval drills and the deployment of additional warplanes to Syria demonstrated an increased Russian military foothold in the region amid the worst Russia-West security crisis since the Cold War.

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