The Finnish Defence Forces confirmed that the nuclear submarine Dmitriy Donskoi passed by Finland in international waters of the Baltic on Monday. The sub is powered by nuclear reactors and has a capacity to carry 200 nuclear warheads and 20 missiles.
The Dmitriy Donskoi, cruising from its home port in the White Sea, is reportedly headed towards St. Petersburg in order to participate in a naval parade this weekend. The vessel is so large that in the relatively shallow Baltic Sea it is unable to navigate completely underwater, offering a spectacle to anyone watching the water as it passes.
The vessel arrives in the region at a time of heightened readiness thanks to joint Russian-Chinese naval exercises dubbed 'Joint Sea'. The manoeuvres will last one week, but precisely where in the Baltic they take place remains unknown.
Russian authorities say that some 10 military ships and about 12 aircraft and helicopters from both Russia and China will participate in the drills. Three of the vessels are Chinese, one of which is a modern, missile-equipped flagship.
The Joint Sea war games mark the first time China has sent naval vessels to participate in naval exercises with Russia. Compared to other military drills, the exercises are relatively small but pundits say the exercises are designed to send a political message to the west.
Some observers say the exercises are a way of Russia and China signalling to western countries and NATO that they would be formidable opponents.
9.45: Missile capacity corrected to 20.