Russia holds surprise drill in east Arctic ahead of giant war games

The Russian Navy’s Vice-Admiral Kulakov destroyer, seen here off the Syrian coast in 2016, is among the ships taking part in a surprise drill in the eastern Arctic. (Vladimir Isachenkov/AP Photo)
A group of at least eight ships sails into east Arctic waters at the same time as a major unannounced drill unfolds in Russia’s Eastern Military District.

Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu on Tuesday announced the drills and the region’s military units subsequently rolled out their hardware and took positions. That includes the nuclear submarines based in the Pacific base of Vilyuchinsk, the Armed Forces say.

The unannounced rehearsal will last for five days and comes as preparations for the Vostok-2018, the biggest military drills reportedly held in the country since 1981. The Vostok-2018 includes also Chinese and Mongolian forces and is due to start in late August.

Training in the Laptev Sea

At the same time, as the forces in the Russian east engage in combat training, reinforcements are coming in from the west. The Northern Fleet states that its flotilla of at least eight vessels have sailed into the Laptev Sea. Included in the group are the anti-submarine ship Vice-Admiral Kulakov and big landing ships Aleksandr Otrakovsky and Kondopoga. Icebreaker Ilya Muromets, tanker Sergey Osipov, tugboat Pamir, hydrographic research vessel Gorizont and crane ship KIL-143 are also part of the voyage.

The ships earlier this week had a stop-over in Dikson, the town on the coast of the Taymyr Peninsula (northcentral Arctic), where they engaged in an exercise on crisis resolution and protection of economically important activities, the Northern Fleet informs.

Several exercises are to be held also in the Laptev Sea.

The ships are likely to proceed eastwards to the new Arctic bases developed by the Navy. Among them are the Kotelny base in the New Siberian Islands, and the bases in Wrangel Island and Cape Shmidt. Ice conditions in the area remain complicated and the Northern Fleet vessels are accompanied by nuclear icebreaker 50 let Pobedy.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: NATO wants to keep the Arctic an area of low tensions, Radio Canada International

China: China opens bids for its first nuclear-powered icebreaker, The Independent Barents Observer

Finland: Finland, Sweden and US building three-way defence ties, YLE News

Norway: NATO sending more warships to Northern Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia’s Northern Fleet works on increasing ties with Chinese Navy, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden to buy U.S.-made Patriot air defence systems, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. Congress authorizes six icebreakers in Pentagon bill, Alaska Public Media

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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