Conflicts & War

Russia deploys MiG-31 fighters in Crimea despite Ukrainian missile threats

Moscow/Kyiv, Oct 21 (EFE).- Russia has deployed MiG-31 fighter jets at a Crimean airfield to patrol the Black Sea despite the risk of being targeted by Ukrainian long-range missiles.

Two American tactical missiles struck two Russian airbases in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Satellite images posted by open-source intelligence (OSINT) analyst MT Anderson, captured on Oct.15, showed at least four MiG-31 jets at the Belbek Russian airbase in Sevastopol.

Three days later, President Vladimir Putin said that Russian aviation equipped with hypersonic Kinzhal missiles would permanently patrol the Black Sea, allowing Moscow to control the Mediterranean.

The MiG-31 jets will carry the Kinzhal hypersonic missile that boasts over 1,000 km range.

However, some analysts believe Russia is taking a significant risk by deploying the MiG-31s in Crimea, as the fighters could be vulnerable to Ukrainian drones and guided cruise missiles.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuri Ignat said Russia used around 40 airfields in its war in Ukraine, and deploying MiG-31 jets at Belbek was not a new development.

Ukraine has previously attacked Russian airfields, and Ignat warned that they would continue their efforts to wipe off Russian presence.

Ukraine’s most recent attack on a Russian airbase in Crimea occurred in September when Russian air defenses intercepted a missile in the Belbek area.

Ukrainian intelligence also claimed responsibility for a drone and Neptun cruise missile attack on the military airfield in Saki in the same month.

Despite the attacks, Russia has returned the MiG-31 to Crimea.

However, on Tuesday, American long-range ATACMS missiles hit two Russian airfields in the occupied cities of Berdiansk and Lugansk, about 100 and 85 km from the front line, respectively.

While the range of the ATACMS is 300 km, Ukraine would have received modified versions with a range of 165 km.

Belbek would still be out of the range of the missiles. However, previous attacks have shown that Ukraine can target the Russian airbase using drones or Neptun missiles, with a range of about 280 km.

British Storm Shadow missiles, which have a range of 250 km, also pose a potential threat.

British military intelligence believes Russia’s announcement of patrols with MiG-31s equipped with Kinzhal missiles aligns with the typical Russian rhetoric that portrays the West as aggressors while framing Russian activities as necessary for the state’s protection.

On the military front, Russian troop activity near Avdiivka town in the eastern Donetsk region has decreased slightly.

But they continue to advance, according to a Ukrainian military spokesman.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported that Russian forces launched a renewed offensive near Avdiivka on Friday and have made marginal advances, indicating that the Russian military command remains committed to offensive operations in the area despite significant losses. EFE


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