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Large-scale drills in Arctic to demonstrate Russia’s military strength — experts

March 16, 2015, 18:38 UTC+3 MOSCOW
US and British nuclear submarines are on permanent duty in the Arctic Ocean that is why Russia must be prepared to promptly repel threats, a military expert says
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© ITAR-TASS/Lev Fedoseyev

MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. The ongoing surprise combat readiness check of Russia’s army units deployed in the Arctic region is called to assess the efficiency of the recently established Sever (North) united strategic command and demonstrate Russia’s strength to NATO countries, Russian military experts told TASS on Monday.

Igor Korotchenko, the editor-in-chief of the National Defense journal and member of the Public Council under the Russian Defense Ministry, said he thought the check was called to demonstrate how efficiently the recently established Sever command was functioning.

"The Arctic is a region from where a number of military threats created by NATO countries might come in future," he said, adding that US and British nuclear submarines were on permanent duty in the Arctic Ocean. These submarines, in his words, are tasked to keep watch on Russian forces and "simulate sea-based cruise missile strikes at Russian military infrastructure facilities."

"That is why we must be prepared to promptly repel threats," the expert underscored, adding that the surprise check would make it possible to assess the proficiency of combat units, coordination of Russia’s "defense components" in the Arctic and to drill skills necessary in the event of a snap war.

Ivan Konovalov, the head of the Strategic Situation Center, said the key goal of the surprise check was to assess the possibilities of the Russian army in the region. "Taking into account the current military political situation, primary attention is now focused on the combat readiness of the Russian army. The Sever united strategic command was set up not long ago so it looks quite logical to stage such inspections there," he said.

However, he noted, the inspection had another task too, that is to demonstrate Russia’s combat strength to NATO countries. "Exact proximity of NATO countries should be taken into account, since they have been building up their forces in this region. So, it’s much better to demonstrate force than to use it," Konovalov said.

Konstantin Sivkov, President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, said the inspection had been rooted in the strains in the relations between Russia and the West. "Tensions in the global situation are growing, especially in the relations between Russia and the West over Ukraine. It makes Russia to take measures to demonstrate its resoluteness and strength," he told TASS.

A surprise check of Russia’s Northern Fleet, on the basis of which the Sever command was established, and a number of units of the Western military district and airborne troops started on Monday morning. The drills involve about 40,000 servicemen, more than 55 warships and submarines, 110 warplanes and helicopters. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the drills were tasked to appraise the combat readiness of Russia’s Northern Fleet in ensuring Russia’s security in the Arctic.

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