Russia has sent "squadrons" of nuclear-capable Tu-22M3 strategic bombers to Crimea in response to the deployment of U.S. Navy Aegis Ashore missile defense installations in Romania, according to a report in Russian state-run media.

"The deployment of American missile defense systems in Romania came as a major challenge, in response to which the Russian Defense Ministry made the decision to deploy long-range missile-carrying bombers Tupolev Tu-22M23 at the Gvardeyskoye air base," Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Russian Federation Council's Committee for Defense and Security, was quoted by Russia's TASS news agency as saying Monday.

"This move has drastically changed the balance of forces in the region," Bondarev said of the missile defense shield.