The deployment comes after three Ukrainian ships illegally entered Russian territorial waters as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait last Sunday. Moscow described the incident as a clear provocation in violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and promised to suppress any attempts to challenge its territorial integrity.
Russia has deployed a Pantsir-S missile and anti-aircraft artillery batallion to Crimea, according to the press service of the Russian Southern Military District.
“The newest [Pantsir-S] air defence systems have entered service among the anti-aircraft missile units of the Southern Military District deployed in Crimea […] as part of the programme to re-equip the district’s troops,” the press service said.
The deployment, which came after Pantsir-S’s live-fire drills at the Kapustin Yar test site, followed the fourth battalion of S-400 missile systems being put into active service in the Crimean town of Dzhankoy near the border with Ukraine.
Earlier this week, S-400 batteries were deployed near the Crimean cities of Feodosia, Sevastopol and Yevpatoria.
The Pantsir-S and S-400 deployment comes after three Ukrainian ships illegally crossed into Russian territorial waters, attempting to enter the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov, without Russian permission.
The vessels were seized by Russia after failing to respond to a demand to stop; their crews were detained.
The Pantsir-S system boasts the latest air defence technology, using phased-array radars for both target acquisition and tracking.
The system is armed with a pair of dual 2AQ38M 30 mm automatic cannons and up to twelve 57Eb-E two-stage solid fuel radio-command-guided surface-to-air missiles capable of hitting targets up to 20 kilometres away and at altitudes of up to 15 kilometres.