Russia’s Navy has test-fired a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile in the Black Sea in a show of force ahead of NATO military exercises in the region.
With tensions still simmering following Russia’s build-up of troops on its border with Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry tweeted on Friday footage of the Moskva guided missile cruiser from its Black Sea Fleet launching the Vulkan missile.
The P-1000 Vulkan missile, an improved version of the Soviet-era P-500 Bazalt missile with greater range, was fired via the Moskva warship’s Bazalt main missile system, the Defense Ministry said. It landed around 19 miles away, Naval Post reported.
The footage the Defense Ministry tweeted shows the launch from a number of angles and cuts to the crew of the vessel on the bridge.
In coverage on the military channel Zvezda, wreckage of a simulated enemy ship is shown and its correspondent said: “These missiles are the reason why our cruiser is called ‘aircraft carrier-killer,'” according to The Moscow Times.
This week, the Moskva, other warships and military helicopters were involved in live-fire naval combat exercises. It comes as the U.S. Coast Guard vessel, Hamilton, a cutter, was moving into the Black Sea to work with NATO allies in the region. The vessel is being tracked by the Russian fleet, Reuters reported.
Mathieu Boulègue, research fellow at the Russia, Eurasia program at London’s Chatham House think tank, said the launch from the Moskva was Russia demonstrating its increase naval presence in the region, which follows recent displays of force in occupied Crimea.
“Beyond signaling capabilities, Russia is showing intent to defend and protect its assets in the Black Sea,” he told Newsweek. “This includes not only Crimea but increasingly the Sea of Azov, where the Kerch Strait has been closed to non-Russian ships until late October.”
“The more tactical reason is to signal to NATO that Russia is watching closely the DEFENDER Europe 2021 exercises that will take place in the region soon,” he added, referring to the U.S.-Army led military exercises involving 27 nations and tens of thousands of troops.
Russia announced the closure of the Kerch Strait to non-Russian vessels until October 31. Moscow says the move is to avoid clashes from upcoming naval drills but many see it as a move to assert its presence in the Sea of Azov, which the Kerch Strait separates from the Black Sea.
Last week, Russia announced the withdrawal of troops by its frontier with Ukraine following deployments it said were in response to NATO maneuvers near Russian borders.
“The whole region is becoming a hotbed for increased tension, and miscalculation, which will require some careful management,” Boulègue added.