Russia deploys Tu-22M3 bombers & Iskanders to Crimea in response to US missile launchers in Romania

Russia has deployed strategic bombers and Iskander missile systems in Crimea to counter US anti-missile elements in Romania, a top senator said. It will allow the country to respond to any threat coming from European territory.

Editor’s note: The Defense and Security Committee of the Russian Federation Council later denied the deployment of Tu-22M3 strategic bombers and Iskander-M ballistic missile systems to Crimea, saying the initial statement by committee head Viktor Bondarev was erroneous.

The installation of the American MK-41 missile defense launch systems in Romania became a “serious challenge” for Russia, Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Russian Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, said.

But the proper response has now been formulated, with “Russia’s Defense Ministry making a decision to deploy squadrons of Tu-22M3 long-range missile-carrying bombers in Crimea, at the airbase in the town of Gvardeysk.”

Russia’s state-of-the-art missile systems, including S-300 and S-400, Buk-M2, Pantsir-S1 and two modifications of [nuclear capable] Iskander, have also been stationed at the peninsula, he added.

The Tu-22M3s in Crimea are to be modernized and equipped with new armaments in the next few years, which will allow them “to deliver warheads to any point in Europe, hitting any type of enemy anti-missile or air-defense facilities,” Bondarev, who was the commander of Russia’s Air Force in 2012-15, said.

A Tu-160 Nikolai Kuznetsov strategic missile-carrier bomber, left, and a Tu-22MZ long-range missile-carrier bomber during the rehearsal of the air part of the Victory Parade in Moscow. © Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich

The statement by the senator was made on the day when the people of Crimea celebrate five years since reuniting with Russia.

The US deployed anti-missile elements in Romania in 2016 and began the construction of another site in Poland the same year. Washington claimed that it was needed to counter ballistic missiles developed by Iran and North Korea, but Russia decried those steps as a grave threat to its national security.

Moscow insisted that the MK-41 launchers in Romania could be used to fire mid-range Tomahawk cruise missiles, which were banned by the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), without any modifications.

In February, the US announced its unilateral withdrawal from the INF, leaving Moscow no choice but to also suspend its participation in the 1987 bilateral deal.

Washington had repeatedly blamed Russia of violating the agreement, among other things complaining about the 9М729 cruise missile used by the Iskander-M systems.

Moscow denied the unfounded claims, saying that the American statements were needed to distract attention from their own non-compliance with the agreement.

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