Russia test-fires missiles in East Asia, despite draining Ukraine fight

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SEOUL — Russia Tuesday test-fired two anti-ship missiles in the Sea of Japan, days after Japan’s prime minister visited Ukraine and the same day that a U.S. aircraft carrier docked in South Korea as part of joint training drills.

Two Russian fast-missile boats fired two projectiles at mock targets 62 miles away in drills held in the Gulf of St. Peter, south of Vladivostok, in the Sea of Japan, the Kremlin announced. According to the Moscow Times, the missiles were “Moskit” (“Mosquito”) cruise missiles, which can travel at three times the speed of sound and have a range of more than 100 miles.

The missile tests follow the flight of two nuclear-capable Russian TU-95 “Bear” strategic bombers over the Sea of Japan last week, further raising tensions in the region.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told Japanese media that Japan will “keep monitoring the moves by the Russian military,” while Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said that, in addition to operations in Ukraine, Russian units are “intensifying their activities also in the Far East.”

On March 21, Mr. Kishida visited Kyiv to express support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. And Moscow-Tokyo ties have long been stressed by territorial disputes in the Sea of Japan dating back to the end of World War II.

The current U.S.-South Korean military exercises have infuriated North Korea, and it was not known whether the Russian missile tests were timed to coincide with the drills.

SEE ALSO: North Korea shows photos of tactical nukes for first time

At a time when Moscow’s battered military is struggling with weapons supply in Ukraine, the assets deployed in Pacific waters are hardly top-tier. “Bear” bombers date back to 1952, while “Moskit” missiles entered service in 1984.

Russia’s Pacific Fleet fields two brigades of naval infantry, both of which have been sent to aid the Ukrainian invasion. Both brigades have reportedly suffered major losses in the war.

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