Crimea’s transformation into an access-denial base

Crimea’s transformation into an access-denial base


The landscape of defense technology is changing. Traditional advantages can no longer be taken for granted. Assumptions made in a unipolar security environment, when power projection was highly permissive, no longer hold and need to be reviewed. The first part of this brief looks at anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) from a software perspective (a certain mind-set increasingly displayed around the world), discusses how emerging A2/AD trends are already affecting what is happening beyond the NATO homeland and how these trends are reflected in some of the most important planning documents of the United States national security establishment. The second part focuses on the A2/AD hardware that Russia is deploying in Crimea, ’facts on the ground’ which have the ability to level the military playing field and fundamentally change the fabric of the security environment in which the Alliance is operating (from highly permissive to restrictive). NATO’s slow motion repositioning on the Eastern Flank (part of the post-Crimea reassurance package), the ‘new playbook’ will have to factor in the rise of these new A2/AD threats and be fine-tuned accordingly.


Strategic outlook

 The world is very different today, not only because of the assertiveness of super-regional powers (China, Russia or Iran), rise of proxy surrogates that become optimal vehicles for indirect power projection, erosion of Westphalian foundations with states collapsing all over MENA, but because all this is happening at a particularly poor time, when resources and the political will dedicated to defense are becoming scarcer, especially in the West. There is an increasing alignment between revisionist postures and the capabilities to carry out such an agenda in key regions of the world.

Traditionally, conventional deterrence used to be based on a technological edge that gave the West, especially to the United States (U.S.) the ability to enjoy an all-domains advantage. As Bob Work, the Deputy Secretary of Defense emphasized in a recent speech: „since the end of World War II we have relied upon our technological superiority (…) to provide a conventional overmatch to overcome an adversary’s advantages in time, space, and size of forces, because generally we are moving across oceans to meet them. This was particularly true in the last 25 years, when the United States enjoyed remarkable and unparalleled conventional dominance across the spectrum. (…) We could generally count on unimpeded access on the land, in the air, and in the sea. (…) and because we were first and early and aggressive mover on the guided munitions battle network regime, we enjoyed a substantial technical, operational, and tactical overmatch against all potential regional adversaries.[1]

All this is currently shifting. Revisionist powers are catching-up and investing in their own competitive advantages especially in those designed to deny access in their own “near-abroad”. In short, we don’t live anymore in the highly permissive environment of the 1990s, but we are entering full-speed in a non-permissive, highly “contested world”[2], as the title of a traditional Naval War College Conference recently captured the essence of our times.

The driving force behind this mega-trend is what some experts call “the democratization of destruction[3] that gives a state the opportunity to access a “wider spectrum of instruments of war, especially precision-strike capabilities and cyber instruments”.[4] The consequence is that, while the U.S. monopoly on guided weapons warfare is waning, becoming a “wasting asset[5], others are investing in precision warfare battle networks developing multiple layers of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities and taking big steps in the direction of leveling the military playing field. It is this reality that may change the strategic calculations of a power that is acquiring these new capabilities. The usual suspect is China.

For years, China has been at the forefront of contestation in South China and East China Seas while at the same developing its portfolio of A2/AD capabilities. In fact, there is an intense, incremental effort of changing the geography of control in the region by imposing new facts on the ground, including through cultivation of a network of artificial islands that can become “full scale potential staging bases that can take aircraft, ships and troops”.[6] The latest National Military Strategy released by Pentagon in June 2015 argues that these new created structures inside the regional ecosystem will give China the opportunity to “position military forces astride vital international sea lanes.[7] In addition, in Yulin Naval Base (in Hainan Island), China is “laying in ground the ability to exert sea control over the South China Sea”.[8]

This increased regional assertiveness can’t be detached by its complement, enabler reality – the developing of an A2/AD portfolio or of the ability to keep the outside expeditionary powers at bay. It is the lesson that the Chinese learnt from the U.S. Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) vindicated by the first Gulf War, but one applied to their own circumstances: “whereas the Americans were thinking about how they could use PGMs and the reconnaissance strike complex to further their ability to conduct air-control, sea-control or land-control, the Chinese were thinking in a more minimalist fashion in terms of how they could use precision strike systems and other capabilities to contest others’ control of various domains through robust integrated air defenses to deny the skies, coastal defenses to deny the seas, and long-range missile strike forces to hold theater airbases and aircraft carriers – the centerpieces of American power projection – at risk.”[9]

It is important to point out that all the recent key planning documents for U.S. national security are taking these trends into account. For example, the Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, is emphasizing that the reassurances of allies in East Asia will depend on the outcome of the competition between U.S. and China, and on the ability to project power vs. the ability to deny such force projection.[10] At the same time, the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) considers that the growing numbers of accurate conventional ballistic and cruise missiles as well as the increasingly dense integrated air defenses “can restrict access and freedom of maneuver in waters and airspace beyond territorial limits”.[11] The most recent National Security Strategy (NSS) of the Obama Administration concluded that access to the shared spaces (cyber, space, air, and oceans) “is at risk” with immediate consequences for the freedom of navigation and overflight. In this context, the U.S. will maintain those capabilities necessary to “ensure the free flow of commerce and to deter those who might contemplate aggression.[12] More specifically, the just published 2015 American National Military Strategy points to state actors who are increasingly harnessing technologies designed not only “to counter U.S. military advantages and curtail access to the global commons”, but also to “contest regional freedom of movement”.[13] Maybe the most suggestive is the U.S. Army Operating Concept: Win in a complex World (2020 – 2040) for which the proliferation of precision-guided rockets, artillery, mortars and missiles is fundamentally reshaping the operational environment giving to the adversaries the ability “to counter U.S. power projection and limit U.S. freedom of action”.[14] The waning U.S. monopoly on precision warfare systems as well as the increasing A2/AD capabilities of the other actors mean that traditionally dominated domains such as air and sea are becoming contested and at the same time the “ability to project power onto land from the air and maritime domains[15] will be challenged even more.

This snapshot has major implications for NATO and how it responds to its immediate security environment and most pressing threats. At its core, NATO remains fundamentally a power-projection organization. Basically, what the Alliance did since last year’s pivotal Wales summit was to provide a reassurance package based on rapid reaction forces able to deploy within 48 hours to respond to challenges that arise, particularly at the periphery of NATO’s territory (the new quick-reaction “Spearhead Force” – the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, or VJTF – of around 5,000 ground troops, plus an increased NATO Response Force – NRF – of around 40,000 forces, the VJTF included) complemented by measures designed to increase the overall responsiveness, readiness and speed of NATO forces.

In addition, NATO started a slow motion process of altering its posture on the Eastern Flank by establishing forward multinational command and control posts – the so called NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs) in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania – that will facilitate the rapid deployment of incoming units (either VJTF or the follow on forces of the NRF) to the region. At the same time, two weeks ago, the United States announced that it will temporarily stage in Central and Eastern Europe a pre-positioned European set of tanks, infantry-fighting vehicles, artillery and associated equipment needed for one armored brigade combat team, in addition to expeditionary enablers (intra-theater and strategic lift; airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; combat sustainment support; mid-air refueling; an air and space expeditionary wing; naval support assets; precision joint-fires; combat helicopters; a deployable command post; and special operations air and maritime capabilities).

To sum up, NATO’s „new playbook” adopted for the post Crimea security environment was about rapid reaction forces, new forward posts and pre-positioned equipment on the Eastern Flank, plus the enabling expeditionary capabilities that connect the dots in between. But this response is too much ingrained in the assumptions of the 1990s of a highly permissive environment: „NATO reiterates that in the current and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out its collective defense and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces. Accordingly, it will have to rely on adequate infrastructure commensurate with the above tasks. In this context, reinforcement may take place, when necessary, in the event of defense against a threat of aggression.[16] The whole post Crimea reassurance package doesn’t seem to factor in the rise of the A2/AD threats, deployed in Kaliningrad and Crimea, specifically the „proliferation of long-range precision weapons and anti-ship missile systems that would pose significant challenges to U.S. or NATO to forward deploy forces, limiting in-theater options for military action”.[17]

The standard answer articulated in the public sphere at the Pentagon level seems to be that the capabilities developed for counterbalancing the A2/AD portfolio in Asia could be also used also in the European theater. „The capabilities China is developing and the capabilities Russia is developing are similar. And therefore the work we have done to ensure we are not adversely affected by anti-access strategies will work against state actors, whoever they happen to be[18] concluded the Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey in a recent interview for Wall Street Journal. Something very similar was emphasized by U.S. Secretary of Defense recently in Brussels where he spoke about an American approach that „includes specific investments that have in part, at least, the objective of countering A2/AD threats in the European area. I say only partly because there are other A2/AD threats elsewhere in the world. So that is a major part of U.S. military strategy generally.[19]

For sure, as it happens in other regions of the world, the proliferation of A2/AD capabilities is changing also the European landscape of defense. Access-denial should no longer be perceived as a strictly Asian affair because „Russia’s ability to contest the landmass in Europe’s east may actually exceed China’s capacity to keep American forces away from thousands of miles of coastline.[20]


New military (im)balance in the Black Sea

The annexation of Crimea has had a profound impact upon the military balance in the Black Sea region. Russia now controls the second most important geographical „real estate” of the Black Sea after the Straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles – the Crimean Peninsula. Russian control over Crimea has the potential to change the entire naval status quo in the Black Sea. The Kremlin is now free to develop and modernize the Black Sea Fleet and to project power beyond the confines of the region.[21] But, in order for the Black Sea Fleet to be of any use for Russia, it has to be modernized first. The ships of the Black Sea Fleet are on average 25 years old which means they are close to decommissioning and, the oldest of these ships were stationed in Crimea.[22] Therefore, soon after the annexation, Moscow launched a program to modernize and upgrade its military presence in the Black Sea. With Crimea under its grip, Russia has two military objectives: first, the transformation of the Black Sea Fleet into a “fortress fleet”, capable of carrying out anti-access and area denial operations and, second, to develop the fleet so that it can support naval operations in the Mediterranean.[23]


The Bastion Strategy

The idea of a naval bastion is not a new one, it has been employed by the Soviet Union during the latter stages of Cold War. Then, the Soviet Union used heavily defended strategic naval bases to protect its submarine launched nuclear deterrent rather than have its navy confront the West on open seas.[24] Soviet submarine bases in the Barents and Okhotsk Seas were protected by surface combatants, aircraft and anti-access means against a possible NATO attack. Furthermore, these bases where heavily fortified in order to survive nuclear attacks and air raids. Soviet ballistic missile submarines used the protection of these bases and the naval and air assets allocated to them to make a safe passage to their patrol stations in the Arctic Ocean.

In the short and medium term, Crimea could be transformed into a naval bastion in order to provide protection for the modernization of the Blacks Sea Fleet and the development of a Mediterranean squadron.[25] Russia has already deployed some anti-access means and devices and can deploy others in the form of mines, anti-ship missiles, anti-aircraft missiles and short-range ballistic missiles. Russian ships, submarines and aircraft could be used to carry and launch anti-access weapons against naval and land-based targets in the Black Sea. NATO access to the Black Sea could therefore be severely curtailed by the build-up of anti-access and area denial weapons in Crimea.

Russia has ambitious plans for rebuilding the Black Sea Fleet. Eighty new ships and vessels of other types are expected to join the force by 2020. Kremlin is to spend USD 2.3 billion on the Black Sea Fleet by 2020 to develop the naval infrastructure in Crimea, according to Admiral Chirkov, commander of Russian navy.[26] In the short and medium term, the fleet will receive 6 modern frigates and 6 submarines.[27] The Black Sea Fleet should receive a new Admiral Grigorovich class frigate and two Kilo class submarines in 2015.[28] However, these plans may be derailed by the economic crisis that Russia is facing as a result of its proxy war with Ukraine. The ships that Moscow expects to deploy in the Black Sea may not be functional – ironically, Russia’s supplier of high power marine turbines is Ukraine which has suspended deliveries of these engines as a result of the war.[29] Consequently, the Russian Navy may be forced to look at domestic suppliers for the marine turbines or even import turbines from China[30], if it is to meet its naval building targets.

Fortifying Crimea with anti-access means and weapons should not be viewed as a mere defensive move since its geographic location, coupled with the long range of some of Russia’s anti-access weapons and delivery platforms, allows it to be used also as a base for offensive operations.


The Iskander Conundrum

One of Russia’s most potent battlefield weapons is the 9K720 Iskander (NATO: SS-26 Stone)[31] tactical short-range ballistic missile. This is a sophisticated weapons system developed after the end of the Cold War to comply with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty that forbade the deployment of land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with a range greater than 500 km. This missile replaced older tactical missiles in the Russian inventory that were outdated (the infamous Scud missiles) or not compliant with the INF treaty (OTR-23 OKA/SS-23 Spider).[32] Iskander is employed as a battlefield support system against targets close to the front line: command centers, long range artillery, fortifications, bases and enemy formations.[33]

The threat this weapon system poses is magnified by the changes in Russia’s defense strategy which places a lot of emphasis on the use of tactical nuclear weapons in order to offset some of its weaknesses in terms of sophisticated military equipment.[34] Iskander missiles can be used, in certain scenarios, to deliver small tactical nuclear weapons with pin-point accuracy against NATO forces. Moreover, the deployment of Iskander missile systems coupled with the threat of using nuclear weapons could be used to cover a land-grab by Russia against NATO member states.[35]

In 2014 the United States publicly accused Russia of braking the INF Treaty by developing a cruise missile version of this weapon system called Iskander-K/R-500 with a range greater than 500 km.[36] The development of a cruise missile system began in 2007 and test firings were apparently carried out the same year in violation of arms control agreements.[37] Although Iskander missiles have not been used in the Ukrainian conflict, this missile system is proving controversial in the current strategic context in the Black Sea. Soon after Russia took over Crimea, there were reports concerning the presence of such weapons systems which, however, proved to be incorrect.[38]

Recently, Russia has warned that it will deploy Iskander complexes as a response to the American basing of missile defenses in Poland and Romania. A missile brigade based in Kaliningrad is set to be re-equipped with Iskander-M missiles before 2018[39] and intelligence satellites have identified these missiles deployed close to the Polish border since 2013.[40] Although the missile defense base at Deveselu is theoretically outside the range of Iskander missiles based in Crimea, if Russia chooses to deploy the cruise missile variant of the system, the base will be well within striking range. Such a move, although possible, should not be viewed as necessary probable. The deployment of Iskander systems in Crimea, in either the ballistic version or the cruise missile variant, should be viewed as a long term risk, rather than a potential immediate threat and is a consequence of Russia’s fierce opposition to NATO and American military presence near its borders.

If Russia deploys Iskander missile systems to Crimea and Kaliningrad, they could be used to counter the pre-positioning of NATO and American troops in Romania, Poland and the Baltic states. U.S. troops deployed at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base could find themselves threatened by Iskander missile complexes deployed in Crimea. If such a scenario ever occurs, the United States may be forced to deploy missile defense systems – surface-to-air missile systems such as the Patriot complemented by an anti-ballistic missile system such as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) – to protect its personnel and assets stationed in Romania.

The threat of strategic bombers

A far more dangerous development is the basing of strategic bombers in Crimea. Soon after the takeover of the peninsula, Russian officials announced plans to deploy Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers, Tupolev Tu-142 and Ilyushin Il-38 maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft.[41] In March 2015, Russia deployed 10 Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers to Crimea during “snap drills” to counter recent NATO large scale exercises in Central and Eastern Europe.[42]

Plans to deploy Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers may prove to be a game changer for Russia in the Black Sea. The Backfire was designed during the Cold War as part of the reconnaissance strike complex of the Soviet Navy whose mission was to attack American carrier strike groups or NATO maritime groups with long range cruise missiles.[43] It may seem an old weapons system, but it was constantly updated and forms the backbone of Russian air force’s and naval aviation maritime strike units. In the maritime strike role, the Tu-22M3 uses up to 10 Raduga Kh-15 missiles (NATO: AS-16 Kickback) or up to three Raduga Kh-22 missiles (NATO: AS-4 Kitchen).[44] These missiles can be fitted with nuclear warheads and have been designed to defeat sophisticated air defense systems. Besides cruise missiles and nuclear weapons, the Backfire can also deliver 24 tons of conventional bombs.[45]

In addition, Russia plans to develop Gvardeyskoye air base to house 10 Tu-22M3 by 2018.[46] If Kremlin goes through with these plans, it will be able to project long range air power effectively in the Black and Mediterranean Seas. As anti-access weapons platform, the Tupolev Tu-22M3 represents a potent threat to NATO and U.S. ships in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. American and NATO bases and command centers in the Black Sea region will be one of the main targets of the Backfire bombers based in Crimea. Politically, the presence of the Backfires will be used by Moscow to try to intimidate and blackmail the weaker NATO members in the region. The presence of these anti-access assets sends a strong signal to the West that Russia means to stay in Crimea and that NATO and American vessels in the Black Sea may be faced with a formidable foe.

Russia’s anti-access arsenal in the Black Sea is not limited to aircraft or ballistic missiles. Its arsenal varies from simple contact sea mines to sophisticated supersonic land-based, air-launched, submarine-based, and ship-based anti-ship cruise missiles that can sink or seriously damage naval vessels that are operating close to Russia’s coast lines or areas of interests.

Russia can interdict access to the Black Sea not only to NATO and American naval power, but also to western air power. Long-range anti-aircraft missiles sometimes called strategic air defense systems, can bring down aircraft flying 400 km away. NATO precision guided munitions and cruise missiles can also be intercepted by these sophisticated air defense systems. One of Russia’s first military moves in Crimea after the takeover was to deploy Bastion-P anti-ship missiles system equipped with the P-800 Oniks missile[47] and S-300 PMU anti-aircraft missile systems.[48] The Bastion-P missile system was specifically deployed in response to U.S. ships entering the Black Sea. These deployments were meant as a clear signal to NATO that Russia is going to fight off any outside power that will contest the annexation of Crimea.

Anti-access and area denial is not just about certain types of weapons system – mines or missiles – it is about platforms as well. Until 2018, the Russian Black Sea Fleet is set to receive 6 new Admiral Grigorovich class (Project 11365M) and 6 new Vershavyanka class submarines (Project 636.3/Improved Killo Class).[49] These new multirole frigates can launch Kalibr supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles and the submarines can employ torpedoes, anti-ship and land attack cruise missiles as well as mines. Of all these new assets scheduled to enter service in the near future, the most dangerous for NATO are the 6 Improved Kilo Class submarines.

The submarine is one of the oldest anti-access military asset history and the Kilo Class are one of the best types of diesel-electric submarines ever designed. Submarines enjoy two distinct advantages in naval warfare: they are stealthy platforms and are extremely flexible – modern diesel-electric and nuclear submarines can conduct intelligence gathering, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and land attack. Although of 1970-1980s design, the Kilo has been constantly improved over time. These submarines, if deployed to the Black Sea (and two already have been) will be able to threaten not only allied shipping, but also bases and command centers around the region.[50]



The rise of anti-access and area denial capabilities are changing the landscape of defense and geography of control around the world. Whether we talk about South China Sea or the Persian Gulf, all the revisionist powers of the moment are investing in this kind of portfolio, tailored to their own local circumstances. NATO’s Eastern Flank, including its fringes – the Baltic and Black Seas, is rapidly catching up with the new emerging reality. The A2/AD capabilities that Russia is deploying in Kaliningrad and Crimea have the potential to keep NATO expeditionary forces at bay and threaten the regional commons. If left unchecked, the development of Crimea as a naval bastion in the Black Sea threatens to render useless the measure taken up to this point to reassure the allies in the region. The conventional land and sea deterrence posture of the Alliance on the Eastern Flank should be fundamentally rethought in order to reflect an access-denial environment. It should encourage broad regional A2/AD coalitions of the interested (either in the Black Sea or between the pivotal powers of the Eastern Flank) as well as cooperative defense modernization initiatives specifically designed to meet this emerging threat.



[1] Speech delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work at the Chinese Aerospace Studies Institute, RAND Corporation, Arlington, VA, Monday, June 22, 2015,

[2] The 66th Current Strategy Forum (CSF) at the Naval War College in Newport titled Strategy and Maritime Power in a Contested Environment.

[3] Keynote Address by Andrew Krepinevich (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments) on “Security Challenges and Resources” at the 66th Current Strategy Forum, Naval War College in Newport titled Strategy and Maritime Power in a Contested Environment,

[4] Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, a publication of the National Intelligence Council, December 2012, p. 5.

[5] Keynote Address by Andrew Krepinevich (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments) on “Security Challenges and Resources” at the 66th Current Strategy Forum, Naval War College in Newport titled Strategy and Maritime Power in a Contested Environment,

[6] Remarks by  Dr. Patrick M. Cronin (Center for a New American Security) on “Contested Arenas” at the 66th Current Strategy Forum, Naval War College in Newport titled Strategy and Maritime Power in a Contested Environment,

[7] The National Military Strategy of the United States of America, 2015, June 2015, p.2.

[8] Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, a publication of the National Intelligence Council, December 2012, p.

[9] Interview with Jim Thomas, „A Strategic Blending: When RMA Meets the Revolution in IW”, Small Wars Journal, June 3, 2015,

[10] Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, a publication of the National Intelligence Council, December 2012, p.72.

[11] National Security Strategy, White House, February 2015, pp. 6-7.

[12] Idem.

[13] The National Military Strategy of the United States of America, 2015, June 2015, p. 3.

[14] U.S. Army Operating Concept: Win in a complex World (2020-2040), p. 8.

[15] Ibidem, p. 9.

[16] Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, May 27th, 1997,

[17] Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, a publication of the National Intelligence Council, December 2012, p. 67.

[18] Interview with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, „Putin and the Doctrinal Definition of Threat”, Wall Street Journal, June 6th, 2015,

[19] Press Availability with Secretary Ash Carter at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, June 25, 2015,

[20] Richard Fontaine and Julie Smith, „Anti-access/area denial isn’t just for Asia anymore”, Defense One, April, 2nd, 2015,

[21] Igor Delanoe, “Crimea, a Strategic Bastion on Russia’s Southern Flank”, December 18, 2014,

[22] Dmitry Gorenburg, “Russia’s Black Sea Fleet”, March 12, 2014, available at

[23] Igor Delanoe, “After the Crimean crisis: towards a greater Russian maritime power in the Black Sea”, South East European and Black Sea Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3,  p. 371.

[24] Norman Polmar, “The Naval Institute Guide to the Soviet Navy”, pp. 23-36. See also Walter M. Kreitler, “The Close Aboard Bastion: A Soviet Ballistic Missile Submarine Deployment Strategy”, PhD Thesis, September 1988, available at

[25] Delanoe, “Crimea, a Strategic Bastion on Russia’s Southern Flank”.

[26] John C. K. Daly, “Hot Issue: After Crimea the Future of the Black Sea Fleet”, May 22, 2014, available at

[27] Sputnik News, “Two Modern Guided Missile Ships to Reinforce Russia’s Naval Guard in 2015”, March 13, 2015, available at

[28]  Sputnik News, “Russia’s Black Sea Fleet to Receive New Frigate, Two Subs, by 2015”, October 16, 2014,

[29] Sam LaGrone, “Russian Navy Faces Surface Modernization Delays Without Ukrainian Engines, Officials Pledge to Sue”, June 10, 2015, available at

[30] Igor Delanoe, “Pekin en mer Noire: Des turbines chinoises aux secours des fregates russes?”, May 6, 2015, available at

[31] Military Today, “Iskander (SS-26 Stone)”, available at

[32] Army Technology, “Iskander Tactical Ballistic Missile System”, available at

[33] Military Today, “Iskander (SS-26 Stone).

[34] Adrian Croft, “Insight – Russia’s nuclear strategy raises concerns in NATO”, February 4, 2015, available at

[35] RUSI, “The latest security challenges facing NATO. A briefing by General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, set against the backdrop of the latest security challenges facing NATO and how this will impact upon UK priorities and commitments”, available at

[36] Global Security, “R-500/ Iskander-K GLCM”, available at

[37] Ibid.

[38] Hans M. Kristensen, “Rumors about Nuclear Weapons in Crimea”, December 18, 2014 available at

[39]  Sputnik News, “Russia Stations Iskander Missiles in Kaliningrad: NATO Cries Wolf”, May 28, 2015, available at

[40] Deutsche Welle, “Russia missile deployment causes concern abroad”, December 16, 2012,

[41] OSIMINT, “Russia to deploy Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers to Crimea”, April 5, 2014,

[42] Sputnik News, “Russia to Deploy 10 Strategic Bombers to Crimea for Snap Drills”, March 18, 2015,

[43] Jana Honcova, “The Russian Federation’s Approach to Military Space and Its Military Space Capabilities”, p.2 available at

[44] Federation of American Scientists, “Tu-22M Backfire (Tupolev)”,

[45] Ibid.

[46] OSIMINT, “Russia to deploy Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers to Crimea”.

[47] Nicholas de Larrinaga, Peter Felstead and Bruce Jones, “Russia parades Bastion-P in Crimea”, May 12, 2014,

[48] Sputnik News, “Russian Military in Crimea Receives S-300PMU Surface-to-Air Missile Systems”, December 3, 2014,

[49] Interfax, “Mistral-type helicopter carrier may join Russian Black Sea Fleet – commander”, May 13, 2014,

[50] ITAR-TASS, “Russia Navy to receive new Submarine for Black Sea Fleet”, August 8, 2015

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