Admiral Gorshkov: Russian frigate armed with hypersonic missiles to conduct naval exercises with China and South Africa


A Russian warship armed with advanced hypersonic missiles has completed exercises in the Atlantic Ocean ahead of a joint naval exercise with the Chinese and South African navies scheduled for next month, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

The Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov, armed with hypersonic Zircon missiles, was rehearsing a “missile attack on an enemy surface target,” the ship’s commander, Igor Krokhmal, said in a video released by the ministry.

The exercise, described by state news agency Tass as an “electronic launch” or virtual simulation, confirmed the “designed properties” of the missile system, Krokhmal said, pointing to the missiles’ alleged ability to reach a distance of more than 900 kilometers (559 miles).

The test was part of a long cruise by Admiral Gorshkov’s frigate launched earlier this month, when Russian state media said the warship was dispatched with hypersonic missiles. According to Moscow and Pretoria, the deployment will also include joint training with the Chinese and South African navies off the coast of South Africa.

The exercise comes as Russia approaches the first anniversary of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and represents both a show of force and – with joint exercises – an opportunity for Moscow to show it is not isolated on the world stage, despite widespread international condemnation. his unprovoked wars.

The White House said Monday that the US is “concerned about any country … exercising with Russia while Russia is waging a brutal war against Ukraine.”

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During a joint meeting in Pretoria on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor defended the naval exercise, with Lavrov saying Moscow did not want any so-called “scandals” over the exercise.

Posing alongside Lavrov while smiling and shaking hands, Pandor said it was common practice for all countries to conduct military exercises with “friends around the world”.

“No country should be forced to conduct them with any other partner. It is part of the natural course of relations between the countries,” she added, without specifically mentioning the criticism leveled at South Africa for its refusal to condemn the Russian invasion.

In a separate statement detailing the joint exercises, which take place from February 17 to 27, South Africa’s Ministry of Defense said that “contrary to the claims” of critics, South Africa “is not abandoning its neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict” and is “continuing” . call on both sides to engage in dialogue as a solution to the current conflict.

China has not made a statement directly confirming its participation, but its defense ministry website published an article on Monday by the state-run Xinhua news agency referring to South Africa’s announcement of the exercise. China celebrates the week-long Lunar New Year.

The US has repeatedly warned Beijing – which has a close strategic partnership with Moscow – against providing material support to the Russian military in its war in Ukraine.

The Biden administration recently expressed concern about China over evidence to suggest Chinese companies sold non-lethal equipment to Russia for use in Ukraine, although it was unclear whether Beijing knew about the alleged transactions.

About 350 members of the South African National Defense Force are expected to take part in the joint naval exercise, according to the Republic of South Africa, who will participate alongside their Russian and Chinese counterparts. The previous exercise between the three navies took place in 2019.

It is the first time the exercises will include the Admiral Gorshkov frigate carrying Zircon hypersonic missiles, which were first tested in late 2021.

The ranged weapons, which Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month “have no analogues in any country in the world,” travel at more than five times the speed of sound and are harder to detect and intercept.

The frigate was actively involved in testing missiles designed and manufactured by the Engineering Research and Production Association, which is part of the Russian Tactical Missile Corporation, according to Tass.

Its current deployment, which began on Jan. 4, expected the ship to transit the Mediterranean Sea and into the Indian Ocean, Tass said at the time.

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