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Russia sends warplanes to Syria for huge naval drills in Mediterranean amid tensions

An MiG-31 fighter of the Russian air force carrying a Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missile is parked at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria, on February 15, 2022. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
An MiG-31 fighter of the Russian air force carrying a Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missile is parked at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria, on February 15, 2022. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

The Russian military deploys 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 Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrives 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 earlier today to inform him about the drills and discuss plans for further military-technical cooperation.

The Defense Ministry says 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 says the maneuvers are intended to train for action to “protect national interests” and “fend off military threats against the Russian Federation.”

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