The exercises come days after Moscow claimed to have fired warning shots at a British warship in the Black Sea.
The Russian military has launched sweeping maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea with fighter jets capable of carrying hypersonic missiles, a show of force amid rising tensions following an incident with a British destroyer in the Black Sea .
Moscow said one of its warships fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs on the way to the British destroyer Defender on Wednesday to force it out of an area near Crimea that Russia claims as its territorial waters. Britain has denied the account, insisting its ship was not shot and said it was sailing in Ukrainian waters.
Russian exercises that began in the eastern Mediterranean on Friday come as a British carrier strike group is in the area.
Earlier this week, British and American F-35 fighters from HMS Queen Elizabeth conducted combat sorties against ISIL Group (ISIS).
Russia has been waging a military campaign in Syria since September 2015, allowing President Bashar al-Assad’s government to regain control of most of the country after a devastating civil war.
The Russian Defense Ministry said a pair of MiG-31 fighter jets capable of carrying Kinzhal hypersonic missiles have arrived at the Russian air base in Syria for the exercise. Hemeimeem Air Base in the coastal province of Latakia serves as the main hub for Moscow’s operations in the country.
This is the first time that combat aircraft capable of carrying the Kinzhal have been deployed beyond Russian borders.
The military claims the Kinzhal flies at 10 times the speed of sound and has a range of up to 2,000 km (about 1,250 miles).
The Defense Ministry said the maneuvers in the Eastern Mediterranean involved several warships, two submarines and Tu-22M3 long-range bombers as well as other fighter jets.
The supersonic, nuclear-capable Tu-22M3s were first deployed to Syria last month in a demonstration of an increased Russian military presence in the Mediterranean.
The Russian military modernized the Hemeimeem runway to accommodate heavy bombers and built a second one to expand operations there.
Russia also expanded and modified a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus, the only such facility it currently has outside the former Soviet Union.
The Russian military has increased the number and scope of its exercises amid bitter tension in relations with the West, which fell to an all-time low after the Cold War following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the peninsula from Crimea to Ukraine.
As part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to bolster the Russian military, the Navy has in recent years revived the Soviet-era practice of constantly rotating its warships in the Mediterranean.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, Commodore Steve Moorhouse said the Eastern Mediterranean has become more “congested and contested” with the larger Russian military presence in Syria, resulting in regular meetings with ships and personnel. Russian war planes.
He noted that a Russian warship approached within 16 km (10 miles) of the aircraft carrier.