Izvestia: What awaits foreign military vessels on Northern Sea Route

A picture taken on May 5, 2016 shows the icebreaker Tor (R) at the port of Sabetta in the Kara Sea shore line on the Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic circle, some 2450 km of Moscow. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)
The Russian government has elaborated a set of rules for foreign naval vessels’ sailing on the Northern Sea Route, Izvestia informs. The newspaper has obtained a copy of the document that states that all vessels are obliged to comply.

The foreign state must send a notification about the voyage at least 45 days ahead of its start. Included will have to be the name of the ship, its objective, route and period of sailing, as well as ship characteristics such as length, width, deadweight, draft and type of engine power. Also the name of the ship captain must be listed.

The ships must also have on board a Russian maritime pilot.

In case the voyage is not conducted in line with the regulations, Russia will have the right to take extraordinary measures including its forced halt, arrest and in extreme cases elimination, Izvestia writes.

The regulations reportedly have a prime target of keeping control over local environmental protection and commercial shipping.

According to the newspaper, the new regulations are made following «the more active naval operations in the Arctic of various foreign countries».

In September 2019, the French Navy’s new offshore support and assistance vessel «Rhône» (A603) unexpectedly transited the Russian Arctic route, starting in Tromsø, Norway, 1 September and ending in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on 17 September.

«Sailors, the BSAH Rhône of the @NationalMarine has just crossed the Bering Strait! He left Tromsö (Norway) on 1 September and will reach Dutch Harbor (Aleutians, Alaska) on 17 September. Bravo Zulu to his crew,» Chief of Staff of the French Navy Admiral Christophe Prazuck said in a tweet.

Increased investment in Arctic infrastructure

Judging from Izvestia, the new set of NSR rules has its prime aim on the USA and NATO.

Russia has over the last years significantly strengthened its military presence in the Arctic. A series of new bases have been built and upgraded and new advance military hardware installed in the area.

Just few days after the French vessel «Rhône» passed through the area the Northern Fleet for the first time test launched its mobile coastal defense system Bastion in the Kotelny base in the remote New Siberian Islands. Also the S300 missile system has been deployed in the region.

New air bases are part of the picture and the Nagurskoye air base in Franz Josef Land will now be capable of handling year-round flights with heavy aircrafts.

Related links from around the North:

Canada: Canada, U.S. must do more to check Russian military in the Arctic, says NORAD chief, CBC News

Finland: Finnish Defence Minister tells party leaders shrinking fighter fleet would be “irresponsible”, Yle News

Norway: Russian jets led mock attack on Arctic Norway radar, intel director says, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia accuses Norway of northern military buildup, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Faced with Trump’s wavering support for NATO, Nordic nations stick together, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: U.S. experts call for ‘vigilance’ on Russian military buildup in Arctic, Alaska Public Media

United Kingdom: U.K. to send sub-hunter aircraft to Arctic in 2020 to “counter” Russian activity, Eye on the Arctic

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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