This Russian Beach Landing Drill in Crimea Is Downright Ferocious

More like a firepower demonstration than a training exercise.

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Russia recently said it would be executing a series of large-scale war games in Crimea, but this demonstration of firepower is way extreme. In this footage, Russia’s most advanced tactical aircraft are firing live weapons just offshore, staged explosions are set off, and Russian armor pours out of massive Ropucha (Toad) class landing beach craft. Panstir-S point air defense systems are also seen guarding over the beachhead, and Russia’s feared Bastion-P coastal defense system is shown in action. 

This is a lot of hardware operating in one relatively small area.

Some of this looks more like a dog-and-pony show than a realistic tactical scenario (Su-34s dumping flares into the ocean on unison etc.) but still it is a pretty awesome sight and a reminder of the heavy-hitting albeit blunt military capabilities Russia has at its disposal. 

Crimea was a part of the Ukraine before Russia invaded it in 2014, and this show of force must be very unnerving for the Ukraine military. The majority of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and a number of other air and land assets have been forward deployed to the Crimea for the better part of a century, and remained there following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. But Russia has drastically increased its military presence in Crimea since seizing it two years ago. This includes a steady modernization of the Black Sea Fleet, much of which is based in Sevastopol, and the deployment of some of the most advanced combat aircraft and missile systems in Russia’s inventory, including the S-400 Triumf SAM system.

Today, Crimea is the linchpin of Russia’s anti-access/area-denial strategy in the Black Sea theater. Think of it as a fortress with invisible anti-aircraft and anti-ship missile system threat rings acting as its stone walls. From the Black Sea, Russia can also project power into the Mediterranean, and its fleet was essential in building up Russian forces in Syria a year ago

The most concerning aspect of this evolution of the Crimea is the potential threat Moscow’s overwhelming military capabilities present to the other countries in the Black Sea. Some were former Soviet satellites that have largely turned their backs on Russia and entered western Europe and NATO’s geopolitical orbit. For them—particularly Georgia—seeing Russia’s amphibious capabilities in action at this level of ferocity provides an ominous reminder of what Russia is capable of.

Contact the author at tyler@thedrive.com