Russian Navy nuclear-powered Kirov-class cruiser Pyotr Velikiy and Udaloy-class anti-submarine warfare destroyer Severomorsk have been observed in international waters off the Norwegian coast, the Norwegian defense ministry said.
In addition to these two, which were tracked by a Norwegian P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, two other Russian military vessels are operating north and south of Norwegian archipelagos of Lofoten and Vesterålen, not far from Allied naval forces participating in the NATO exercise Cold Response 2022.
The naval portion of the largest international exercise hosted by Norway in more than 30 years kicked off last weekend. Two aircraft carriers, HMS Prince of Wales and USS Harry S. Truman, will lead around 35,000 troops from 28 nations in a showcase of how a unified multilateral force would defend Norway and Europe’s northern flank from a modern adversary. Of the 35,000 troops, 14,000 are land forces, 13,000 are naval forces, while 8,000 are air forces and headquarters established at various bases.
Norway previously said it informed Russia on various aspects of the maneuver in a bid to minimize the potential for misunderstanding and accidents, especially in light of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The Norwegian defense ministry noted that the Russian vessels operated in international waters, adding that they requested the establishment of a NOTAM area (Notice to Airmen) in the center of the Norwegian Sea, which to the possibility of them using this area for exercises.
It was also stressed that the Russian vessels sailed legally in international waters, and the Norwegian defense ministry said it was not unusual to experience such activity in connection with major exercises such as Cold Response.
Cold Response 2022 will mainly take place in south-eastern Norway, central Norway and the northern parts of the country, with troops training in large areas both at sea, in the air and on land.
This year’s edition of the exercise will focus on amphibious operations, facilitated by more than 50 vessels from standing NATO maritime groups, in addition to the two carrier strike groups, amphibious task groups, submarines and more than 200 aircraft.
Over the coming weeks, allied and partner armed forces will trek across the vast wilderness, conduct live-fire drills, leap into freezing lakes, and much more. They will hone their arctic training skills, making sure that NATO armed forces are prepared to respond to any threat or crisis.