Russia’s Northern Fleet launches surprise, large-scale exercise in Barents Sea

Warships from Russia’s Northern Fleet in Severomorsk. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Russian navy kicks off largest naval maneuver in 10 years in a surprise exercise aimed to counter a massive enemy attack.

“The Northern Fleet has embarked on the largest gathering in 10 years”, reads the brief information from Russia’s Northern Fleet Wednesday afternoon.

A total of 36 warships and support vessels are currently on their way out to the Barents Sea. Also, about 20 aircraft are in the air. Along the coast of the Kola Peninsula (Northwestern Russia), more than 150 different rocket and artillery weapon systems and special equipment are deployed.

Larger areas in the Barents Sea are now closed off for civilian shipping and overflights by civilian passenger aircraft. The drill will last until the end of next week.

Drilling against large-scale enemy attack

The press-service of the Northern Fleet explains the exercise to be a full-range defensive-aimed drill to combat a massive enemy attack. The fleet will carry out shootings with different naval weapons, including launching of cruise-missiles, mines and torpedoes and other missiles.

Among the warships are the missile cruiser “Marshal Ustinov”, anti-submarine ship “Severomorsk”, the destroyer “Admiral Ushakov”, the large landing ships “Kondapoga”, “Georgy Pobedonosets” and “Aleksandr Obrakovsky”.

Without specifying classes or names, the Northern Fleet says both nuclear-powered and diesel submarines participate.

Asked by the Barents Observer about updated information, the press-service of the Northern Fleet says it can’t provide more information to foreign media, the request is forwarded to the Ministry of Defense in Moscow.

Norway not informed

Press-spokesman at Norway’s military Joint Headquarters, Major Brynjar Stordal, says to the Barents Observer that Norway was not informed about the naval drill.

“Russian forces in the north have over time had a relatively high level of activities in different fields, something they have all rights to do within own territory and in international waters and airspace.”

Major Stordal says Russia’s military activities in areas close to Norway are of course monitored in order to “maintain a satisfactory understanding of the situation.”

The Northern Fleet, with headquarters in Severomorsk north of Murmansk, is the largest of Russia’s four fleets.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada extends air defence monitoring zone to entire Canadian Arctic, Radio Canada International

Finland: Nordic nations to hone air combat skills over Finnish Lapland, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: Hundreds of U.S. Marines to train in Northern Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian troops undertake exploration of large Arctic island, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden issues first brochure on war and crisis preparedness since Cold War, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. leads anti-submarine drill in Norwegian Sea, The Independent Barents Observer

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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