Russia’s Northern Fleet Commander announces war games outside Norway

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Nikolai Yevmenov (C) and Russian Ground Forces colonel general Aleksandr Dvornikov (R) attend the joint drills of the Northern and Black sea fleets on board the Russian guided missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov in the Black Sea, off the coast of Crimea January 9, 2020. (Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin/Reuters)
With short notice, the Russian Northern Fleet announces via its own media a large-scale exercise to happen later this month in the Barents- and Norwegian Seas involving 30 surface ships, a few submarines, support vessels and more than 20 aircraft.

It is in a lengthy interview with the Russian Defense Ministry’s newspaper, Krasnaya Zvezda, the Northern Fleet Commander informs about the up-coming large-scale exercise.

“Maneuvers will take place in the Northern Fleet’s ranges in the Barents Sea. We will exercise individual events in the Norwegian Sea,” Read-Admiral Aleksandr Moiseyev said.

The Commander names the exercise “large-scale” and adds that a “set of tasks will be exercised by various groups of forces.”

“It will involve more than 30 surface ships, submarines and support vessels, [and] more than 20 aircraft of various types,” the Rear-Admiral elaborated.

Naval vessels at port in Severomorsk. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Aleksandr Moiseyev underlined that all maneuvers “are defensive in nature and are not directed against anyone.” However, he said, the “actions of our forces are planned taking into account the international situation.”

Norway, though, is not informed about the Russian navy plans.

“We are not informed about such an exercise via any formal channels,” says spokesperson for Norway’s Joint Head Quarters, Jørn Hammarbeck, in a phone interview with the Barents Observer.

He adds that Russia, like all countries, is free to exercise its navy in international waters.

U.S. and British navy voyage

In early May, a group of U.S. and British surface warships sailed into the Barents Sea for the first time since the mid-1980s.

U.S. strategic bombers have also on several occasions the last year been on missions over Scandinavia and above the Arctic Circle.

Third year in a row

This will be the third year in a row the powerful Russian Northern Fleet exercises with more than 30 warships in the northern waters.

In June 2018, the Northern Fleet kicked off an alarm-drill and sailed out 36 warships from the Kola Peninsula to the Barents Sea. Also at that time, about 20 aircraft participated, the Barents Observer reported.

Last August, 30 Russian warships staged a sudden show of force outside the coast of Norway in a move that took Norwegian military officials by surprise.

Norway’s Chief of Defense, Haakon Bruun-Hanssen called it “a very complex operation.”

Last year’s Russian navy exercise in the Norwegian Sea consisted of ships from three of the country’s fleets; the Northern Fleet, the Baltic Fleet, and the Black Sea Fleet.

Thiis photo is from a Barents Sea SAR-exercise in 2019 and shows a Russian military Iluchin-38, normally used in anti-submarine operations. On the sea, the Northern Fleet’s ship “Altay” and FSB border guard ship “Zapolariye”. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Nuclear sub around Scandinavia

Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Moiseyev did not elaborate on exact dates for the exercise later this month, but he told that Northern Fleet vessels, including the nuclear-powered Oscar-II class submarine «Orel», will sail to St. Petersburg for the Main Naval Parade taking place in late July.

Orel” was also in 2018 participating in the Naval Parade.

The inter-naval transition from the Northern Fleet to the Baltic Sea this summer will also include the anti-submarine destroyer «Vice-Admiral Kulakov».

2020 will be the fourth year in a row that Northern Fleet sends a nuclear-powered submarine around Scandinavia for participation in the Naval Parade.

Related stories 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

Iceland: Iceland talks Arctic, Trump’s ditching of climate accord, with U.S. Secretary of State, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway strengthens its Arctic military in new defense plan as security concerns grow in the region, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian Arctic military exercise draws awe and concern, CBC News

Sweden: Arctic Sweden to welcome thousands of international troops for Northern Wind exercise, The Independent Barents Observer

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

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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