MOSCOW, September 15. /TASS/. NATO naval and aviation forces and the militaries of some nations, such as the UK, Norway, Finland and the US closely watched Russian Northern Fleet’s exercise in the Arctic, the Russian Defense Ministry told journalists Wednesday.
"During the preparations for and in the process of the exercise, a high activity of foreign naval and air reconnaissance - NATO and its individual member states - was registered," the ministry said.
According to the ministry, foreign planes conducted as many as 17 sorties over the Barents Sea and parts of Finland bordering Russia.
Besides, the UK Royal Navy sent the Echo hydrographic ship and the Lancaster missile frigate to the Barents Sea, in addition to Norway’s Marjata electronic intelligence collection vessel.
The Northern Fleet exercise was aimed at practicing the defense of sea communications and Russia’s economic zones within the Northern Sea Route area. It also involved forces during special operations on thwarting and neutralizing terrorists.
The military exercise took place at several proving grounds in the Murmansk Region, and along swathes of the Barents, Kara and Laptev Seas. It involved as many as 8,000 servicemen, about 800 vehicles, some 120 aerial vehicles and up to 50 combat and support ships.