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Russia imposes no fly zones to practise aviation shipping attacks

Russia has issued an international notice to pilots (NOTAM) creating no fly zones over Crimea and parts of the Black Sea from 20–24 April in order to practise convoy protection and surface attack drills. ”The area has been declared temporarily dangerous for aircraft,“ the NOTAM announced on 20 April.

The prohibited airspace up to 62,000 ft, covers southern Crimea from Sevastopol to Feodosia, Crimea’s southern coast, and some international waters in the adjoining Black Sea.

The NOTAM follows an announcement by Russia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 14 April that banned shipping to the west of Crimea, along its southern coast and around the Kerch Peninsula, until 31 October, while ongoing naval exercises take place.

On 17 April a Southern Military District statement said that three squadrons, comprised of 50 fighters, bombers, and naval aviation, were deploying to support the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) in exercises around Crimea. The aircraft include Sukhoi Su-27SM and Su-30SM fighters, Su-24M and Su-34 bombers, and Su-25SM3 attack aircraft, transferred to Crimea.

During the 20–24 April drills aircrews will practise convoy escort duties and enact ”reconnaissance strike [search-and-destroy] operations to ensure the security of the Black Sea”, the statement said. Aircraft will specifically practise missile bomb and missile attacks against sea targets, flying in testing conditions and at very low altitudes.

On 20 April the MoD stated that more than 20 BSF vessels had carried out joint training supporting Russian Aerospace Forces and Naval Aviation.

Elsewhere in the region, on 20 April sailors and marines of the Caspian Flotilla and Northern Fleet practised transferring and cross-decking stores and equipment to and from landing ships. This has involved the large Northern Fleet landing ship Alexander Otrakovsky and other amphibious vessels.

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