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Russia's Northern Fleet launches large-scale Arctic exercises

The Russian Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command has begun a major independent combined arms Arctic exercise led by the Northern Fleet commander Admiral Alexander Moiseyev.

As reported by Russia's Ministry of Defence on 9 September, Exercise ‘Artik' involves 50 warships, 8,000 troops, 120 aircraft, 800 units of equipment including 40 main battle tanks, 460 armoured fighting vehicles, and 240 guns, mortars, and multiple launch rocket systems. Bal and Bastion coastal missile batteries are also participating in the excercise.

The exercise is concentrated in the far northern and extreme eastern Arctic; the Barents, Chukchi, East Siberian, Kara and Laptev Seas, the New Siberian Islands, and the Franz Josef Land archipelago.

This is the first time that Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command, which became fully operational on 1 January 2021, has staged an exercise of this scope and magnitude. It has mobilised the majority of its assets from west to east along the Russian Arctic Ocean, all the way from the Kola Peninsula to the Bering Strait. Its predecessor Northern Fleet naval command was involved in more limited manoeuvres.

Russia's Ministry of Defence has issued ‘coastal warnings' and ‘notices to mariners' at short notice. These have closed off large exercise areas, and in some cases, impacted fishing grounds.

The manoeuvres' principal objective is to ensure the Northern Fleet's ability to rapidly address events in the area of the Northern Sea Route or Sevmorput, regardless of weather conditions and time of day, to protect and defend garrisons, and to study tactically important locations.

The given aims of ‘Artik' are “managing the Arctic expeditionary group during joint special operations to isolate areas of operation, block and destroy terrorists, prohibit and eliminate the supply routes of illegal armed formations by aviation and air defence units”.

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