Flexing muscles for Nordic neighbors

A number of SU-24 aircrafts are currently in the Barents clouds.

As tensions between the East and West are mounting following the annexation of the Crimea, Russia launches a series of military exercises, also near the borders of its Nordic neighbors.


Information from the Russian Armed Forces clearly show an enhanced level of military activity in Northwest Russia, included near the borders of Finland and Norway. According to the military press service, strategic bombers and fighter aircrafts on the 19th March started up a major exercise in the clouds over Karelia, the region bordering Finland. More than 40 crews of Su-34, Su-27, Su-24M and MiG-31, several of them from Murmansk, are involved in the exercise which is aimed at fighting enemy aircrafts, ground facilities, as well as “interception of air targets of distant borders”.

At the same time, Russian air defence units in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Oblasts are engaging in intercepting fictous enemy aircrafts violating the Russian state border. Involved in the exercise is the long-range S-300 surface-to-air missile system, as well as modern radar systems, reports.

Also the Northern Fleet is unfolding a wave of exercises. More than 500 soldiers from the Fleet’s artillery and intelligence units are engaged in wide range of activities along the coast of the Kola Peninsula. Included are more than 100 pieces of machinery and a wide range of weaponry, the military informs.

The enhanced training comes as political relations between Russia and its western neighbors are on the freezing points and as several countries announce an end to military cooperation. Among the latter is the UK, which on Tuesday said that it was suspending military export licenses to Russia, canceling naval exercises and suspending a proposed Royal Navy ship visit to Russia.

In the Nordic countries, the latest Russian developments have likewise stirred major reactions. Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt in a speech to parliament said that “the threshold for Russia’s use of military force in its neighbourhood has clearly been lowered” and that “Russia has created a serious element of uncertainty concerning its future policy and its future actions in other situations as well”. In a tweet, the minister adds that “Russia is now an unpredictable power”.

Meanwhile, Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen in an interview admits that Finland is not neutral country” and that “NATO is an option”. In Norway, Foreign Minister Bjørge Brende stresses that Russia’s use of military force is unacceptable and that Norway will be “clear and unambiguous in its response”.