New S-400 surface-to-air missiles will be installed very soon in Crimea, in the context of a showdown between Russia and Ukraine.
A new S-400 ground-to-air missile system will be deployed “in the near future” in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed in 2014, where tension has mounted since Sunday, a Russian army official said Wednesday.
“In the near future, the anti-aircraft missile system will put itself in a fighting position to protect the airspace of the Russian Federation,” said Colonel Vadim Astafiev, spokesman for the Russian Southern Military District, quoted by Interfax news agency.
According to the Ria Novosti news agency, it will be in place before the end of the year. It will join the three S-400 systems already in service in Crimea.
On Sunday, a clash between Russian coast guards and three Ukrainian Navy ships that wanted to enter the Sea of Azov via the Russian-controlled Kerch Strait led to the capture of the three ships off the Crimea, 24 sailors were taken prisoner, including three wounded.
This is the first open armed confrontation between Ukraine and Russia since the annexation of Crimea in March 2014.
A source in Russian security services told Ria Navosti in September that a fourth S-400 system was to be deployed in Crimea near Djankoy, a small town near the “border” with Ukraine.
With a theoretical range of 400 km, the S-400 is the latest in Russia’s anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems, which sees it as one of the jewels of its military industry.
It has been sold to India but also to Turkey, which has angered Western NATO allies in NATO, including Washington, which highlight its incompatibility with the Alliance’s defense systems.