Russia has announced plans to deploy nuclear-capable strategic bombers to the Crimean Peninsula in response to the deployment of US missile defense in Romania.
The Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted a senior Russian official as saying on Monday that Moscow had decided to deploy the Tupolev Tu-22M3 Long-range Bombers at Gvardeyskoye Air base in Crimea.
“The deployment of US missile defense in Romania was a serious challenge. The Russian Ministry of Defense has decided to strengthen the Crimea defense system by deploying Tu-22M3 long-range bombers in the Gvardeyskoye air base, “ said Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the defense and security committee of the Council of the Federation, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament.
“This step has radically changed the balance of power in the region,” he added.
The top Russian legislator said that strategic bombers stationed in Crimea would be modernized to neutralize air and missile defense systems across Europe.
The United States and other NATO members have stepped up their military activities in Eastern Europe since the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 and the annexation of Crimea by Russia in a referendum.
Moscow has repeatedly criticized the strengthening of NATO’s military forces in Eastern Europe, saying it undermines regional security.
The deployment of bombers in Crimea comes as a result of Washington’s withdrawal from the 1986 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia.
On October 20th, 2018, US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the FNI after accusing Moscow of violation of the treaty; a charge that Moscow categorically rejected.