Moscow deploys its most sophisticated warplanes to Syria as relations with Ankara continue to strain.
Over the weekend, four of Russia’s newest and most sophisticated military aircraft – the Su-35 “Flanker E” – arrived at the Russian airbase of Latakia in Syria.
This comes on the back of another alleged violation of Turkish airspace by a Russian Su-34 “Fullback” fighter-bomber on Friday.
Relations between Ankara and Moscow remain extremely tense since Turkish forces shot down a Russian Su-24 jet after allegedly violating Turkish airspace for under 20 seconds in November.
Although Turkey is within its legal rights to shoot down foreign military aircraft which violate its airspace and refuse to comply with warnings, Ankara deliberately took a very aggressive stand against repeated Russian violations by shooting down the plane.
This, in turn, seems to have prompted a dual response from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
For his domestic audience – still the most important factor for the Russian leader – Putin has deployed the S-400 advanced air defence system and ordered jets taking part in operations near the Turkish border armed with live air-to-air missiles for self-protection.