Russia sends 24 warships, bombers to Baltic drills as NATO stages war games
On Wednesday, Moscow deployed a grouping of 24 Baltic Fleet
warships and vessels for military drills in its exclave on the
Baltic Sea coast. The drills were launched on Tuesday in response
to NATO’s international drills – Saber Strike 2014 and BALTOPS
2014 –near Russia’s border.
"The squadrons of warships are performing the tasks of ensuring the protection of the state border of the Russian Federation, protecting marine communications, providing for shipping safety, organizing air defense, and searching for and detecting surface ships and submarines of the imaginary enemy," said Russia's Defense Ministry.
The ministry added that the newest Su-34 Fullback fighter bombers and Su-24MR reconnaissance aircraft have also taken off from their air base in Voronezh region to join the war games in Kalinigrad.
"Tu-22M3 long-range bombers are in the state of readiness to patrol the area of the exercises. An A-50 long-range airborne warning and control system aircraft is involved in the drills for reconnaissance purposes."
The presence of Russia’s military force in the war games is “equitable” with the number of NATO troops concentrated in the three nearby Baltic states – Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia – which are hosting the drills from June 9-21, the Defense Ministry noted.
The drills come amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukrainian crisis. Troops from the US, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Norway, and the UK taking part in the war games beefed up their presence near the Russian border, accusing Moscow of having an aggressive stance in the Ukrainian conflict.