Russia to deploy long-range nuclear bombers to Crimea for drills
Iran Press TV
Tue Mar 17, 2015 1:35PM
Officials in Moscow have announced plans to send some of their strategic missile-carriers to Crimea a year after the peninsula separated from Ukraine and rejoined the Russian Federation.
A source in Russia's Defense Ministry said Tuesday that Moscow would deploy Tupolev 22-M3 bomber jets to Crimea as part of a drill to test the combat readiness of tens of thousands of Russian troops across the country.
The source, however, did not specify an exact date for the deployment of the bombers.
The snap military check, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, comes as tensions between Russia and the West are soaring over the crisis in neighboring Ukraine.
More than 40,000 troops have been deployed across Russia in a major show of strength in the face of a potential threat by the United Sates and allies in NATO as Washington has deployed thousands of soldiers to northern Europe for a major military exercise with NATO-member Baltic states.
Russia had previous plans for redeployment of the Tupolev bombers to Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula which was used to support the Russian Navy during the Soviet era.
Moscow's announcement comes as Crimea is celebrating this week the first anniversary of its reunification with the Russian Federation, which was decided in a referendum in March 2014 after a legal government in Kiev was toppled by anti-Russia forces earlier in the year.
The incident also triggered an unprecedented armed conflict in eastern and southeastern Ukraine, which has up to now claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people.
On Sunday, Putin said in a documentary that since the very beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, Moscow was ready to bring its nuclear weapons into a state of alert.
On February 12, hopes were revived after leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France agreed on a ceasefire deal in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, which was aimed at ending the conflict in east Ukraine.
However, sporadic clashes have continued despite claims by the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia forces that they are committed to the truce.
Western governments accuse Russia of having a hand in the conflict. Moscow denies the allegation, saying that the Western-backed government in Kiev should stop suppressing the rights of the ethnic Russian population in that part of Ukraine.
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