Russia to Raise Firepower in South to Neuter NATO Air 'Threat'

Russian navy
People watch celebrations for Russia’s Navy Day in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, July 26, 2015. Pavel Rebrov/Reuters

Russia's Defense Ministry has vowed to increase its firepower in its southern regions near Ukraine and the Black Sea, in response to U.K. jets in Romania.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) currently runs patrols on behalf of NATO ally Romania, with four Typhoon jets deployed near the Romanian port city of Constanta. London made the deployment in April, just as the U.S. deployed two of the world's most advanced warplanes, the F-22. One of the RAF's jets scrambled on Tuesday to track a group of Russian bombers flying across the Black Sea.

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The tailing was at such a distance that the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed it did not even see the Typhoon, though Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Wednesday at a conference of military officials that Russia needed to beef up measures in the region regardless.

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"Under these circumstances, Russia is forced to take symmetrical measures for neutralizing the emerging threat for national security, conducting actions for strategic containment and raising the battle capabilities of Russia's Southern Military District," Shoigu said.

Shoigu did not say what the measures would be but used the recent U.S.-lead Sea Breeze drill conducted with Ukraine as a reason why Russia needed to reinforce further. NATO has repeatedly denied its limited multinational reassurance measures are intended to be aggressive toward Russia.

"Over the last half a year the Southern Military District received over 600 units of combat equipment," Shoigu said, state news agency Itar-Tass reported. "The battle training of the staff and the preparation of the military authority is being perfected constantly."

He indicated that the high rate of exercises would continue.

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The Black Sea and the Southern Military District is currently one of the crucial areas for Russia, which borders two nations on whose territory it has deployed troops—Ukraine and Georgia.

Three NATO states sit on an extensive share of the Black Sea coastline. As ties between Russia and the NATO alliance have soured over Crimea, Black Sea waters have seen a handful of tense encounters between Russian and Western personnel.

Among the more spectacular was a near miss between a U.S. aircraft and a Russian jet jumping to escort it, getting within 10 feet for the U.S. jet.

Russia to Raise Firepower in South to Neuter NATO Air 'Threat' | World