President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the Russian Aerospace Forces would conduct permanent patrols over the Black Sea with MiG-31 fighter jets armed with the Kinzhal hypersonic weapons.
“This is not a threat… Based on my instructions, the Russian Aerospace Forces will begin patrols on a permanent basis in the neutral zone of airspace over the Black Sea, and the MiG-31 aircraft will be armed with Kinzhal systems,” Putin told reporters in Beijing after he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Russian Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missile system has a range of over 1,000 km and speeds up to Mach 10.
Putin said the supersonic aircraft would enable Russian aviation to monitor developments in the Mediterranean, particularly given the escalating conflict between Israel and the Islamist Hamas group in the region.
“I stressed that this is not a threat, but we will exercise visual control, control with weapons of what is happening in the Mediterranean Sea,” the Russian president said.
The US has deployed two aircraft carrier strike groups in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Putin’s announcement came a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Kyiv had deployed US long-range ATACMS missiles for the first time against two Russian airfields.
One of the airfields is on the coast of the Sea of Azov, more than 100 km from the front.
By Nadeem Faisal Baiga