MOSCOW — The Russian military on Friday launched sweeping maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea featuring warplanes armed with state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles, a show of force amid a surge in 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 in the path of British destroyer Defender on Wednesday to force her out of an area near Crimea that Russia claims as its territorial waters. Britain denied that account, insisted its ship wasn’t fired upon and said she was sailing in Ukrainian waters.
The Russian drills that began Friday in the eastern Mediterranean come as a British carrier strike group is in the area. Earlier this week, British and US F-35 fighters from HMS Queen Elizabeth flew combat sorties against the Islamic State group.
Russia has waged a military campaign in Syria since September 2015, allowing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to reclaim control over most of the country after a devastating civil war.