Two cruise-missile-equipped warships have joined Russia's Black Sea Fleet, a move that increases Moscow's potential firepower in its campaign of air strikes in Syria.
The flags of the Black Sea Fleet were hoisted above the fast-attack ships Zelyony Dol and Serpukhov on December 12 at a ceremony at the Russian naval base in Sevastopol, in the Ukrainian region of Crimea that was annexed by Russia in 2014.
The two ships have been undergoing trials at the Russian Black Sea base in Novrossiisk for several months. Four more similar ships are currently under construction.
The two ships are equipped with Caliber-NK long-range cruise missiles, the same weapons that have been fired from Caspian Sea ships into Syria since Russia began its air strikes there on September 30.
Moscow says it is targeting the Islamic State terrorist organization in Syria, but the United States and other countries believe Russia is mostly propping up the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.