Russian defense officials say they are deploying “squadrons” of Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers as a counter to U.S. Navy Aegis Ashore missile defense installations in Poland and Romania, according to a report in Russian state-controlled media on Monday.
In comments made to the TASS news agency, Russian lawmaker Viktor Bondarev said Russia was sending the bombers to the Gvardeyskoye airbase in Crimea in a move to directly counter the U.S. Aegis Ashore missile defense installations.
“The deployment of American missile defense systems in Romania came as a major challenge, in response to which the Russian Defense Ministry made the decision to deploy long-range missile-carrying bombers, Tupolev Tu-22M3s, at the Gvardeyskoye airbase,” Bondarev said. “This move has drastically changed the balance of forces in the region.”
The strategic bombers are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, but it’s unclear if those weapons would come with the bombers if they deployed to Crimea.