Menacing fleet of 40 Russian aircraft and vessels 'frighten West' with Pacific war drills


The fleet, made of 20 warships, submarines and support vessels, are carrying out an “operational exercise”. The menacing group includes missile cruiser Varyag, large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleev and frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov.

In a statement, the Defence Ministry said the Pacific Fleet’s “combined arms forces is running in the distant maritime zone”.

They added the fleet’s “naval tactical groups have made a transit about 4,000km long from naval bases and combat watch areas and deployed the Fleet’s groups in the designated area of the Pacific for accomplishing training tasks”.

The exercise also involves about 20 aircraft, including Tu-142M3 long-range anti-submarine warfare planes, MiG-31BM high-altitude interceptor-fighters and other aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Force.

The exercise began on June 10 and is being led by Pacific Fleet commander Sergey Avakyants.

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Sergei Shoygu, Russian defence minister, said the drills are preparation for the joint Russian-Belarusian Zapad-2021 exercise, due to take place in September.

Russia and Belarus carry out the war games every four years.

Mr Shoygu said plans would be carried out in line with international agreements.

He added: “Nevertheless, for some reason, [our exercises] have greatly frightened our Western neighbours.”

It comes after Russian media claimed the country has nearly finished building its first naval ship, fully equipped with stealth technology.

The hull of the Mercury naval corvette dubbed project 20386 has already been built.

The vessel is expected to be delivered to the navy next year, RIA reported, citing two unnamed sources in the shipbuilding industry.

Russia has invested heavily in its navy in recent years, part of a push by President Vladimir Putin to revamp the military that has been complicated by Western sanctions.

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