Moscow, Russia | Russia on Tuesday engaged in new military maneuvers in the Arctic, a strategic region in which it has strengthened its presence in recent years and where its interests conflict with those of many countries, including the United States.
The last exercises began on Monday and are expected to last “several days,” according to the Ministry of Defense. It involves simulating aircraft destruction by Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft systems, in-flight refueling of MiG-31 fighters and neutralizing a drone attack by removing their control signals.
The exercises came after a naval exercise on Friday, when three nuclear-powered submarines appeared in the Arctic Ice, the first in Russia’s post-Soviet history according to the military, and an operation promoted by President Vladimir Putin.
According to retired Russian Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, in an interview with Interfax on Friday, “This is the usual intense combat training, but it is also a nod to our foreign friends – the Americans.”
“Obviously, the goal was to show: Don’t try to master the North Seas. We have been here for a long time,” he said.
Vladimir Putin made the economic exploitation of the Arctic a strategic priority, notably by creating a sea route along the northern coasts to connect Europe with Asia and compete with the Suez Canal.
This sea route, which has become more practical thanks to global warming and melting ice, is set to play an increasing role in international trade.
On the military side, Russia has continued to increase its presence in the Arctic in recent years, reopening and modernizing many bases and airports abandoned since the end of the Soviet era. It also deployed the latest S-400 air defense system there.
In 2019, it also launched the world’s first floating nuclear power plant, Akademik Lomonosov, which aims to facilitate economic development in the Arctic and supply oil platforms in this hydrocarbon-rich region.
Moscow’s interests in the Arctic conflict with those of four other countries, including the United States, which in February sent strategic bombers for training in Norway and deployed ships last year in the Barents Sea in the United States, Russia’s exclusive economic zone.