The announcement of a major naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea from Saturday Sept. 1 to Sept. 8 came Thursday amid rising Russian-US tensions over Syria. The defense ministry in Moscow said that 25 warships and submarines and 30 planes, including fighter jets and strategic bombers, would take part, and the drills would involve anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and anti-mining exercises. The maneuver will come ahead of a Syrian and allied offensive to clear rebel forces out of Idlib.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Russians are engaged in muscle-flexing ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s trip to Tehran on Sept. 7 for a summit with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and their Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan. Putin seeks to demonstrate that Russia rules the skies and waves of the Mediterranean Sea – not America.