MOSCOW — Russia’s military said on Wednesday that the United States, Britain, Norway and Finland had sent vessels and aircraft to monitor military exercises involving the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet in the Arctic, the Interfax news agency reported.
The maneuvers this month involved 8,500 people and 50 vessels, and the Northern Fleet is now beginning to return those forces to base as they draw to a close, Russia’s military was quoted as saying.
The Northern Fleet’s exercises take place in parallel with Russia’s massive Zapad-2021 military exercises, which are based around a scenario involving three fictitious hostile powers — one of which is called “the Polar Republic.”
“While Nyaris appears to represent Lithuania and Pomoria is probably a stand-in for Poland, the Polar Republic is likely intended to represent Norway or another Scandinavian state, heralding a significant role in Zapad-2021 for Russia’s Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command,” writes Michael Kofman in War on the Rocks.
Some of the exercises took place on the Kola Peninsula near Russia’s borders with Norway and Finland, while others took place on Franz Josef Land, the militarized Russian Arctic archipelago between the Barents and Kara seas.
Another exercise, at the industrial Arctic port of Dudinka, simulated re-capturing a port occupied by hostile forces.
Finland isn’t a NATO member but together with Sweden, anther non-NATO nation, it has increased military cooperation with other Nordic countries in recent years.
Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; writing by Tom Balmforth with additional writing from ArcticToday staff.