Vladimir Putin’s forces have been spotted hunting an “enemy submarine” with 20 surface ships, submarines and support vessels all playing their part in the largest scale naval exercise since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Russian president will meet US counterpart Joe Biden on June 16 amid simmering tensions over his country’s involvement in Ukraine, election meddling, spying and more.
But Putin was not afraid to show his military might just days before the meeting.
A total of 20 warplanes took to the skies, including Tu-142M3 long-range anti-submarine aircraft, MiG-31BM high-altitude interceptor fighters and a selection of other aircraft belonging to Russia’s Aerospace Force, according TASS.
In a video put out by Russia’s ministry of defence, the fleet can be seen in pursuit of and “driving out” a mock enemy submarine.
“During the exercise, the crews of the Pacific Fleet’s warships fired from the automatic naval gun mount AK-630 and the universal naval artillery A-190,” said a Moscow defence ministry statement.
The search and tracking of the mock enemy’s submarines were carried out by the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleev equipped with guided-missile weapons, the frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov and three corvettes, reported Sputnik.
Former chief of the General Staff of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, said: ‘In the post-Soviet period, there have been no comparable exercises involving such a large number of forces.’
Rear Admiral Konstantin Kabantsov said: “The uniqueness of the (naval) drills lies in the area of the exercise – this is the central part of the Pacific Ocean.
“In the recent history of the Russian fleet such exercises have not been conducted.”
Earlier, Moscow also claimed it had intercepted a US reconnaissance plane on its Pacific coast, preventing it from approaching the Russian state border.
Video from the cockpit of a Su-35 fighter showed the American RC-135 spy plane, said reports.
Joe Biden will meet Putin on June 16 in Geneva, following the G7 summit, in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay, to argue the contest between the world’s richest democracies and “autocrats” of the 21st Century.
Biden said on Sunday that relations were at their lowest point in years between the US and Russia.