Three Russian submarines surface and break Arctic ice during drills

The ships surfaced through 1.5-meter-thick ice near Franz Josef Land.

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MOSCOW — Three Russian nuclear ballistic missile submarines have surfaced simultaneously breaking the Arctic ice during drills, reported the commander-in-chief of the Russian fleet at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin via videolink on Friday.

The commander, Nikolai Yevmenov, said the sophisticated maneuver was carried out by submarines “for the first time in the history of the Russian Navy.” The submarines surfaced within a 300-meter radius and the ice they broke was 1.5 meters deep, the admiral added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hears a report by the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, on a complex Arctic expedition via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence. (Alexei Druzhinin / Russian Presidential Press and Information Office /TASS via Reuters)

The Kremlin has pushed to beef up defenses in the Arctic, which Putin has touted as a vital region for Russian interests as climate change makes it more accessible.

The Russian defense ministry published footage of the submarines emerging from underneath the ice with loud noise. After one of them surfaced, a sailor showed up on top of it and waved at a camera with his hand.

The drill was held near the archipelago of Franz Josef Land in the Arctic Ocean and was aimed at testing Russian military hardware in extreme weather conditions.

“The Arctic expedition… has no analogues in the Soviet and the modern history of Russia,” Putin said.

Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova.