Russia shows off Arctic military power

The drills at Cape Chelyuskin, the northernmost tip of the Taymyr Peninsula, take place even as Russia is drafting more troops to fight in Ukraine.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - September 22, 2022
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Even as some troops from Russia’s Northern Fleet are engaged in the invasion of Ukraine, others took part in exercises designed to show Russia’s military strength in the Arctic.

Between icebergs and frozen tundra, soldiers drilled in a simulation where they countered an imagined illegal armed sabotage reconnaissance group at Cape Chelyuskin. The cape is at the northernmost tip of the Taymyr Peninsula — and is the northernmost coastline of the Eurasian mainland. (The official press statements say nothing about how the mock enemy managed to get to such a remote location.)

The drill this week included landing amphibious assault forces supported by choppers and artillery fire from the destroyer Admiral Levhenko — the lead warship on the Arctic voyage.

September expeditions with exercises along the Northern Sea Route have been an annual highlight for the Russian navy over the last decade. This year, the voyage is supervised by Vice Admiral Oleg Golubev, Deputy Commander of the Northern Fleet.

[Russia conducts Chukchi Sea military drills]

Armored personnel carriers were brought to shore by Aleksandr Otrakovsky, the landing ship that last year sailed side-by-side in the Black Sea with the cruiser Moskva. (That warship sank after being hit in Putin’s war off the coast of Ukraine earlier this year.)

Troops now training Arctic warfare on the top of the world come from the same infantry brigades that have lost hundreds of soldiers on the battlefields in Ukraine since Putin ordered them to invade on February 24.

Thousands of kilometers from the violent fighting in Ukraine, the soldiers practiced tactical actions to capture the beach and made a five-kilometer march on the permafrost of the peninsula.

The navy ships set out from the Kola Bay on August 10 and have conducted navy drills at Franz Josef Land, near the offshore oil rig Prirazlomnaya in the eastern Barents Sea and in the Kara Sea on their way to Severnaya Zemlya and the Laptev Sea where a drill took place at the Kotelny Island last week.

West poses no threat 

As Russia trained troops in the high Arctic, the Norwegian prime minister gave his speech at the UN Security Council meeting in New York. Norway is the only nation that shares both a land border and a maritime border with Russia in the Arctic.

Jonas Gahr Støre commented on Moscow’s allegations that Russia is being threatened by the West.

“Let me say as clearly as I can: These allegations are simply not true. There is no military threat against Russia,” Støre said.

The Norwegian prime minister continued, speaking about on the war on Ukraine: “If the Russian people, and we know them, could freely express their views, would they have chosen war? I doubt it.”