Putin attends military drills off the coast of Crimea



Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday attended massive military drills, which involved test launches of cruise and hypersonic missiles, off the coast of Moscow-annexed Crimea.
Russia’s commander-in-chief was on board the cruiser Marshal Ustinov to watch the joint drills by the Northern and Black Sea Fleets, the Kremlin said.
He watched test launches of Kalibr (Caliber) cruise missiles and Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missiles among others, the Kremlin said. Russia annexed the peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, in a move condemned by the West that was followed by the outbreak of an insurgency in eastern Ukraine. The conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives.
Exercises in the Black Sea featured frigates and a large anti-submarine ship as well as a submarine, large landing ships and fast attack guided missile craft, while fighter jets and bombers also took part.
“A pair of MiG-31K interceptor aircraft fired Kinzhal missiles at a target at one of the test ranges,” the Kremlin said.
Putin has repeatedly touted the Kinzhal missile, which he first unveiled as part of an array of next-generation nuclear weapons during his annual state-of-the-nation address in 2018.
In late December, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin that the first Avangard hypersonic missiles had been put into service, in a move hailed as a major coup for Moscow.—AP