High military activity in Russian North

Northern Fleet naval infantry marching towards embarkation area.

The snap combat readiness exercise for the Northern Fleet that was initiated on Monday has led to a sharp increase in military activity in the high north. Aircraft and paratroopers are being relocated from other bases in Russia to the Arctic.


On Monday President Vladimir Putin, in position of being the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, ordered all units of the Northern fleet to be ready for combat readiness. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said 38,000 soldiers, 3,360 vehicles, 41 naval vessels, 15 submarines and 110 aircrafts are involved in the inspection.

Paratroopers from Ivanovo to the Arctic 
More than ten Il-76 transport planes will bring paratroopers from Ivanovo outside Moscow to an airport in the Arctic. Crews from the Military Transport Aviation have already been relocated from the Pskov region to the Severny airport in Ivanovo to take onboard personnel and equipment from the airborne forces, the Ministry of Defense’s web site reads.

It is not known which airport the paratroopers are heading for. It is the 98th Guards Airborne Division that is based in Ivanovo. In March 2014 paratroopers from this unit took part in one of Russia’s biggest airdrop operations in the Arctic, when 350 soldiers were dropped over the island of Kotelny in the New Siberian Islands. In April 2014 90 paratroopers from the unit jumped from an Ilyushin Il-76 to the drifting research station Barneo close to the North Pole.

Landing operations
The Northern Fleet’s Naval Infantry will as part of the exercise conduct landing operations on Arctic shores. Soldiers have marched from the readiness area to the embarkation area and entered the landing craft “Kondopoga”, RIA Novosti reports. The vessel will land the personnel “at a place that will be decided by the General Staff officers carrying out the inspection of the Northern Fleet”, the information agency writes.

The lading operation will include BTR-80 and MTLB-V amphibious armored carriers and vehicles.

Russian media has so far not reported where the landing operation is to take place. The Northern Fleet’s Naval Infantry, which is based in the Sputnik camp in the Pechenga valley, has earlier had a tradition of sailing out the Pechenga fjord and conducted landing operations on the Rybachy peninsula. “Kondopoga” was involved in shooting exercises and landing drills in the same area in July 2014, as BarentsObserver reported.

In 2012 units from the Naval Infantry conducted Russia’s first ever amphibious landing on the Arctic archipelago of the New Siberian Islands. A similar operation was held in 2013.

Jet fighters relocate to reserve airfields
The sudden alarm preparedness exercise includes relocation of several military aircraft to reserve airfields. In the coming days 50 planes and helicopters will be rebased at distances from 400 to 4000 kilometers, the Ministry of Defense’s web site reads.

Jet aircraft of the types Su-27 (Flanker) and Su-24M (Fencer) and helicopters of the types Mi-8AMTSh and Mi-24 will participate in the exercise.

Lead crews of aviation specialists have already arrived at the airfields to prepare them for the arrival of the aircraft.

Anti-submarine missions in the Barents Sea
The Northern Fleet’s naval aviation is conducting anti-submarine operations in the Barents Sea using Il-38 aircraft and Ka-27 helicopters, the Ministry of Defense’s web site reads.

The aircraft are searching for submarines in the area where the Northern Fleet will be training as part of the alarm preparedness exercise. The naval aviation will also be using drones in the aerial reconnaissance of the Barents Sea.

In addition, crews at military transport planes are ready to fly out with cargo for the Northern Fleet’s tactical groups that are based on islands in the Arctic Ocean, the ministry’s press center reports.