Russia announces new S-400 surface-to-air missiles deployment in Crimea
Russia’s Defense Ministry has said it will deploy new S-400 surface-to-air missile systems on the Crimean peninsula as tensions flared in the region this week following Moscow's claims that three Ukrainian vessels had violated its territorial waters near the Kerch strait.
S-400 air defense system (Picture source: Vitaky Kuzmin)
Russia’s Southern Military District spokesman Vadim Astafyev told Interfax on Wednesday that a fourth S-400 battalion would soon be deployed in Crimea near Djankoy, a small town near the "border" with Ukraine. The new S-400 systems will be operational by the end of the year.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has bolstered the Black Sea peninsula’s military defenses with three S-400 systems since 2017. On Sunday 25 November, a clash between Russian coast guards (possibly also with FSB personnel) and three Ukrainian Navy ships that wanted to enter the Sea of Azov via the Russian-controlled Kerch Strait led to the capture of the three ships off the Crimea, 24 sailors were taken prisoner, including three wounded. This is the first open armed confrontation between Ukraine and Russia since the annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Ukrainian president Poroshenko declared on 27 November that his country is near a "total war" with Russia.The UN has called both parties to de-escalation of the tension. US President Donald Trump has declared is considering to cancel a scheduled meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the forthcoming G20 summit because of the Russian "aggression".
With a theoretical range of 400 km, the S-400 is the latest in Russia's anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems, which sees it as one of the jewels of its military industry. It has been sold to India but also to Turkey, which has angered Western allies in Ankara within NATO, including Washington, which highlight its incompatibility with the Alliance's defense systems.