Northern Fleet kicks off major Barents Sea command and staff exercise

Warships, submarines and support vessels left port in Severomorsk for the Barents Sea exercise. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

20 warships, submarines, support ships, and airforce. More than 8,000 servicemen participate as Russia early Friday morning sent out its largest fleet to the Barents Sea for war games.

The exercise comes unsurprisingly. Earlier this week, the Barents Observer reported about Russia issuing NOTAM-warnings for two larger areas north and south of Norway’s Bear Island in the western Barents Sea. “Impact areas for missiles,” the warning to civilian air traffic said.

Norway, worried about consequences for its search- and rescue capabilities in the waters around Svalbard, can do nothing to hinder Russia from using the Norwegian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as an impact area for cruise missiles. This is international waters.

“The Law of the Seas gives states access to conduct military exercises in other states’ 200-mile zones,” says spokesperson with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo, Ane Haavardsdatter Lunde to the Barents Observer.

“Russia can therefore carry out military training activities in Norwegian 200-mile zone,” she adds.

Lunde underlines that Norwegian authorities assume Russia’s military exercises are “carried out in a way that safeguards Norwegian rights under the Law of the Sea and international law in general.”

That also includes Norway’s fishing rights, Lunde says.

Russian warnings from Friday morning to Monday evening

Fishing trawlers and other civilian vessels are warned by Russia’s Sea Port administration for the European Arctic to keep out of the two large training areas in the western Barents Sea. For a trawler captain, that could mean days without fishing and extra fuel costs by sailing away to safe distance.

The Russian warnings are operative from Friday morning to Monday evening.

“During the exercise, under the leadership of the commander of the fleet, Admiral Aleksander Moiseev, various options for managing the forces and troops of the fleet will be tested in the performance of tasks to protect the sovereignty of the Russian Federation in the waters of the Northern Sea Route,” the press service of the Northern Fleet in Severomorsk writes.

Fighter jets, submarines involved 

Fighter jets took to the skies Friday morning north of the Kola Peninsula to protect the 20 warships now sailing out. A few nuclear-powered submarines are also involved, as well as coastal missile systems and special military formations, according to the press service.

Within a few days, several of the warships will be deployed for the Northern Fleet’s annual Arctic Expeditionary Vessel Group, aimed to protect the Northern Sea Route. Such forces normally sail to the Kara- and Lapte Seas, for landing training at the Taimyr Peninsula and New Siberian Islands. However, in 2021, the large anti-submarine warship “Severomorsk” together with support vessels suddenly turned west in the northern Barents Sea and sailed to the west coast of Svalbard.

Thereafter, the navy group continued east to its predicted route north of Siberia.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Northern premiers say Canada can’t have Arctic security without infrastructure, The Canadian Press

China: Satellite imagery reveals construction progress on new Chinese Antarctic base, Eye on the Arctic

Denmark: Danish policy prioritizes low-conflict Arctic amidst Russian tensions, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Icelandic embassy suspends operations in Moscow, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Svalbard’s travails in a changing Arctic, Blog by Marc Lanteigne

Sweden: US bombers land in northern Sweden for first time, Radio Sweden

United States: Russian, Chinese vessels near Alaska reminder of ‘new era of aggression’: Senators, Eye on the Arctic

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *