A very cold war: Three Russian nuclear missile-carrying submarines surface in the Arctic Circle in fresh show of strength
- Three nuclear submarines simultaneously broke through Arctic ice and warplanes flew over the North Pole
- Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway have been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic
- Putin has beefed up Russia’s naval presence int the Arctic region, believed to hold undiscovered oil and gas
Vladimir Putin has hailed the Russian Navy after three of its nuclear ballistic missile submarines smashed through Arctic ice within feet of each other in a show of strength.
Navy chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov reported to Putin the exercise featured three nuclear submarines simultaneously breaking through Arctic ice and warplanes flying over the North Pole.
This week’s drills were conducted around Alexandra Land, an island that is part of the Franz Josef Land archipelago where the military has recently built a base.
Moscow has prioritised beefing up its military presence in the Arctic region, which is believed to hold up to a quarter of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas.
A Russian nuclear submarine breaks through the Arctic ice during military drills. Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic
Vladimir Putin hailed the military’s performance during recent Arctic drills, part of Moscow’s efforts to expand its presence in the polar region
Mr Putin has in the past cited estimates that put the value of Arctic mineral riches at £22trillion.
Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, as shrinking polar ice opens new opportunities for tapping resources and opening new shipping lanes.
As part of its efforts to project its power over the Arctic, the Russian military has rebuilt and expanded numerous facilities across the polar region in recent years, revamping runways and deploying additional surveillance and air defence assets.
As part of this week’s manoeuvres, a pair of MiG-31 fighters flew over the North Pole, Adm Yevmenov said. A Defence Ministry video featured them being refuelled by a tanker plane.
Yevmenov said the sophisticated manoeuvre was carried out by submarines ‘for the first time in the history of the Russian Navy.’
Moscow has prioritised beefing up its military presence in the Arctic region, which is believed to hold up to a quarter of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas
The video also showed three nuclear submarines that smashed through the Arctic ice next to one another.
Mr Putin said the exercise was unprecedented for the military and praised its skills. He added that the manoeuvres have also proven the reliability of Russian weapons in polar conditions.
‘I order to continue Arctic expeditions and research in the Far North to help ensure Russia’s security,’ the president told the navy chief.
The Russian military has expanded the number and the scope of its war games amid bitter tensions in ties with the West, which have sunk to post-Cold War lows after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.
A MiG-31 fighter of the Russian air force is refueled by an Il-78 tanker plane during Russian military maneuvers in the Arctic during military drills at an unspecified location
Putin said: ‘The Arctic expedition… has no analogs in the Soviet and the modern history of Russia.’
It comes after a British spy plane monitored Russian war games in the Arctic where Moscow says it has completed initial tests on a new hypersonic missile, local media says.
An RC-135W Rivet Joint reconnaissance jet flown by the RAF is said to have circled the skies near where the Kremlin’s Admiral Gorshkov frigate sailed off Russia’s northern coast this week.
The Gorskhov has carried out at least four test launches of the new 6,100mph Zircon missile, which is expected to go into service next year and which defence chiefs boasted had ‘hit the bullseye’ in testing.
Vladimir Putin sees the Mach 8 Zircon as his missile of choice to target US cities in the event of a nuclear conflict, it is claimed.