Russia responds to Arctic NATO drill

A Russian Tupolev-160 strategic bomber jet near the city of Murmansk,  in Arctic Russia, in 2005. (Alexey Panov /AFP/Getty Images)
A Russian Tupolev-160 strategic bomber jet near the city of Murmansk, in Arctic Russia, in 2005. (Alexey Panov /AFP/Getty Images)
The country’s Arctic Brigade is mobilized as NATO countries together with Sweden and Finland start the Arctic Challenge rehearsal.

Russian Minister of Defence Sergey Shoigu on Monday announced that Air Force and Air Defence units in the country’s Central Military District will undergo a major unannounced inspection. Included in that inspection is also the new Arctic Brigade, a unit subjected to the Northern Fleet and specialized on operations in the country’s far north.

According to a Russian military source, the mobilization of the Arctic Brigade must be seen as a response to the ongoing NATO rehearsal Arctic Challenge, Vedomosti reports. The Russian Arctic Brigade is based in the Kola Peninsula and has a wide range of armament and military equipment at its disposal.

The Russian drill started on the 25th May, the same day as the Arctic Challenge.

Russian drill near Nordic exercise

Furthermore, a key objective of the Russian inspection is to assess the Air Force’s ability to redeploy from permanent bases to areas along the state border, Vedomost informs. As many as 12000 soldiers and 250 aircrafts and helicopters, as well as about 700 military equipment units, are involved in the inspection, a press release from the Defence Ministry reads.

With the engagement of the Arctic Brigade, the Russian rehersal will unfold in the vicinity of the Nordic drill. According to the Norwegian Armed Forces, the Arctic Challenge will take place in the Nordic High North with the Air Force bases of Bodø in Norway, Rovaniemi in Finland, and Kallax in Sweden as centerpieces.

The Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015 (ACE 2015) includes air force units from a total of nine countries. Norway is lead nation and the almost 100 fighter jets are involved. It will last until 5th June.

The exercise builds on the Swedish exercise, Nordic Air Meet, the Norwegian Armed Forces inform in a press release.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Indigenous leaders warn international community, continued tensions with Russia will harm Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Denmark:  Nordics to step up security cooperation on perceived Russian threat, Yle News

Finland:  Finnish fighter jet broke sound barrier during unspecified operation, air force declines comment, Yle News

Norway: Norway must ramp up military in response to Russia: report, Barents Observer

Russia: Russian governor praises role of Barents Cooperation, Barents Observer

Sweden: Arctic Challenge Exercise begins over North Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. Arctic rep: Russia’s Arctic buildup not necessarily martial, Alaska Public Radio Network

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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