Report: Russian Navy Conducts Major War Games Near Alaska
According to The Associated Press, the Russian navy conducted major maneuvers “near Alaska involving dozens of ships and aircraft, the military said Friday, the biggest such drills in the area since Soviet times.”
- Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov, Russia’s navy chief, said more than 50 warships and about 40 aircraft participated in the exercise in the Bering Sea, which included practice missile launches.
- In a statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry, Yevmenov said: “We are holding such massive drills there for the first time ever.”
- The AP noted that it was not immediately clear when the maneuvers began or if they had concluded.
- “Yevmenov emphasized that the war games are part of Russia’s efforts to boost its presence in the Arctic region and protect its resources,” the news outlet reported.
“We are building up our forces to ensure the economic development of the region,” he said. “We are getting used to the Arctic spaces.”
- The report noted that the “Russian military has rebuilt and expanded numerous facilities across the polar region in recent years,” and “Russia has prioritized boosting its military presence in the Arctic region, which is believed to hold up to one-quarter of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas.”
As the exercise was ongoing, U.S. military spotted a Russian submarine surfacing near Alaska on Thursday. U.S. Northern Command spokesman Bill Lewis noted that the Russian military exercise is taking place in international waters, well outside U.S. territory.
Also late Thursday, NORAD sent F-22 fighter jets to intercept three groups of two Tu-142 Russian maritime patrol aircraft that came close to Alaska.
The Russian aircraft remained in the area for about five hours and came within 50 nautical miles of Alaska. Officials said the Russian jets remained in international air space, and at no time entered United States or Canadian sovereign air space.
- Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of NORAD, said in a statement: “Our northern approaches have had an increase in foreign military activity as our competitors continue to expand their military presence and probe our defense. This year, we’ve conducted more than a dozen intercepts, the most in recent years. The importance of our continued efforts to project air defense operations in and through the north has never been more apparent.”