20/10/2014 12:07
RIA Novosti

Military & Intelligence

Russia Starts Massive Air Defense Drills Amid Crimea Standoff

Topic: Crimea’s Fate

20:39 06/03/2014
Tags: Kapustin Yar, S-300, Buk-M1, KC-135, Oleg Kochetkov, Crimea, Ukraine, Russia

MOSCOW, March 6 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Western Military District has begun large-scale air defense drills at its southern testing range of Kapustin Yar on the backdrop of further escalation of tensions with the West over Ukraine.

Kapustin Yar, located some 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of the Ukrainian border, will host about 3,500 troops and over 1,000 units of military hardware for about a month. The exercise will culminate with live-firing drills, involving S-300, Buk-M1 and other air defense systems.

“It is for the first time that all air defense units from the district, including coastal defenses of the Northern Fleet, have gathered in one place,” said the district’s spokesman, Col. Oleg Kochetkov.

“It is the largest-ever exercise held by air defense units of the Western Military District,” Kochetkov said, adding that the drills were part of a regular combat training cycle.

The exercise, however, coincides with further escalation of a political crisis in Ukraine that has led to the current standoff between Russia and the West over the fate of Crimea, an autonomous Ukrainian region with a majority ethnic Russian population.

Crimean authorities have refused to recognize as legitimate the new central government in Kiev, which ousted President Viktor Yanukovych late last month, and on Thursday they announced a decision to become part of Russia.

A popular vote to approve the decision will be held in Crimea on March 16.

Russia’s parliament has recently approved military intervention in Ukraine, while thousands of “local militia” allegedly under Russian command have taken control over Ukrainian military bases across Crimea in the past week.

Following these developments, the West showered Moscow with accusations of aggression and threats of sanctions while cutting off military exchanges with Russia and scrambling to bolster military cooperation within NATO.

The Pentagon announced plans on Wednesday to expand combat pilot training in Poland and to send six additional F-15C fighter jets to a NATO mission carrying out air patrols over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Patrols have been carried out on a three- to four-month rotation basis by 14 NATO states from Lithuania’s air base in Zokniai, near the northern city of Siauliai, since 2004 when the ex-Soviet republics joined the alliance.

The Estonian military said Thursday that the six US fighter jets as well as two KC-135 aerial refueling tankers landed at Zokniai, joining four US F-15s deployed there since January.

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RIA NovostiS-300Russia Starts Massive Air Defense Drills Amid Crimea Standoff

20:39 06/03/2014 Russia’s Western Military District has begun large-scale air defense drills at its southern testing range of Kapustin Yar on the backdrop of further escalation of tensions with the West over Ukraine.>>

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  • bielecPerfect choice of location
    21:26, 06/03/2014
    From Kapustin Yar, Russia can defend the air space in Southern and Eastern Ukraine and, at the same time, keep in check Georgia.The large distance from the border with Ukraine shows that Russia's intentions are purely defensive.
    • rosenWell
      11:48, 09/03/2014
      Ukraine remains a sovereign country therefore it is questionable whether or not Russia has a right to defend their airspace.
      Imagine NATO moving missile defense systems to the Polish border to protect the Polish minority in Belarus...

      Also, could anyone explain me what is it with Russia and Georgia? Do you really think they would attack? Or is it more of a muscle showing thing?
    • pheonixoops
      21:44, 06/03/2014
      Whouldnt it be a big shame if one of those misiles went out of control and hit the illegal goverment of ukraine?Just saying.
    • Robert@Hesitation
      10:14, 09/03/2014
      I feel Putin has hesitate too much about this situation, have allowed to escalate. If he had helped the former prime minister during the protest, he hadn't left Ukraine, and this new fake prime minister wouldn't be voted. Now, he allowed USA and EU control part of Ukraine, and they are not satisfies, they want more, they want all. Putin, on my oipinion, shouldn't protect only Crimea, should expel this fake prime minister, just like USA and EU did with the previous one, and place back the real one. Hesitation is sign of weakness and they are taken Putin's goodness for granted. If things keep going this way, they will all get united and invade Russia.
    • SkypilotMost air defense systems only marginally effective
      17:29, 15/03/2014
      Just as an aside, in the modern world, the advantage goes to the offense. That's just the overriding technical reality. For example, America's highly-touted 'Patriot' air defense system turned out to be next to useless in the first Iraq war. The gap will probably get worse as hypersonic nuclear-armed drones take to the skies. In modern warfare, cities are the worst places to be caught in if you are a civilian. There are a thousand Hiroshimas in our future.. it's going to be hard to avoid that grisly fate over the long run, even if we luck our way through another century of 'Cold War' international politics. The future will be very bleak.

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