Norwegian soldiers at the observation outpost will have panorama view when the powerful Northern Fleet sets off artillery shooting in the Varanger fjord later this week.
Russia has issued warnings to both seafarers and pilots to stay away from waters close to the coast between Pechenga fjord and Grense Jakobselv. At the nearest, the area announced for live shootings is only three to four nautical miles from Norwegian territorial waters and about five nautical miles from the shores where the Russian-Norwegian land border meets the Varanger fjord.
The Notice to Airmen says airspace is closed from early morning June 1 to 15.00 on June 2.
A coastal warning (PRIP) issued by Murmansk Sea Port Administration bans navigation in the area for the same period.
It is unclear if the shooting will come from shore or by warships sailing in the area. The Sredny Peninsula is a well-known training area for coastal forces of the Northern Fleet. Pechenga is home to both the 200. Motorized Rifle Brigade and the 61. Naval Infantry Brigade.
Two of the larger warships from Severomorsk left port before the weekend for what the Northern Fleet says is “planned combat training.”
“Vice Admiral Kulakov” and “Admiral Levchenko” will train anti-submarine warfare together with both nuclear- and diesel-powered subs, a note from the navy reads.
Additional to the warning zone a stone’s throw from Norway’s shoreline, two larger areas next to the maritime border are this week closed for air traffic because of Russia’s military activity. One area is just east of the Fishermen Peninsula while the other is just east of the maritime border in the Barents Sea.
In February 2021, the Northern Fleet’s missile cruiser “Marshal Ustinov” sailed very close to Norway’s border outside Grense Jakobselv. Two months later, artillery shooting was announced for the same area west of the Sredny Peninsula in the Varanger fjord.
NATO allies and partner nations have just ended the large exercise Formidable Shield outside Andøya in the Norwegian Sea. From shores and navy vessels, the participants trained on air and missile defense as Russia’s long-range cruise missiles pose a threat to Norway’s military infrastructure in the north and by that transatlantic communications in case of crisis.
On Monday, the Finnish-led fighter jet exercise Arctic Challenge 2023 started with 14 nations participating with about 150 aircraft. The largest part of the training area is inside the Arctic Circle. Also on Monday, the “USS Gerald R. Ford”, the world’s largest aircraft carrier, started to sail north from Oslo and is expected to train with Norway and other NATO allies outside the Lofoten archipelago later this week.
Related stories from around the North:
Denmark: Danish policy prioritizes low-conflict Arctic amidst Russian tensions, Eye on the Arctic
Finland: Trial fence on Finland-Russia border nears completion, Lapland phase next, Yle News
Greenland: Growing focus on Arctic puts Greenland at higher risk of cyber attacks: assessment, Eye on the Arctic
Iceland: NATO anti-submarine warfare exercise underway in North Atlantic, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: And in Between, There Are Doors’—Europe, the Arctic, and shared spaces, Blog by Marc Lanteigne
Russia: Moscow expels five Swedish diplomats, orders closure of Consulate General, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Blinken to visit Luleå amid Arctic fighter jet exercise, The Independent Barents Observer
United States: U.S. nominates Alaskan as first Arctic ambassador, Eye on the Arctic