Admiral Moiseyev slams Norway’s ties with the United States as NATO kicks off major missile defence exercise
NATO military presence up north are provocative and threatens security in the Arctic, Admiral Moiseyev told journalists in Severomorsk, the Izvestia newspaper reported on Thursday.
The Admiral claimed that the Norwegian leadership is “under pressure” to promote the expansion of military presence by NATO allied forces and for pushing the conflict potential in the Arctic.
This happens, according to Moiseyev, despite the “historically established long-term good neighborly relations” between Russia and Norway, two countries with the “ability to have constructive dialogue on problematic issues in the region.”
“Recently, the United States considers Norway as the main bridgehead in the Arctic, as a territory used for the forward presence of the Armed Forces, deployment of reconnaissance and surveillance equipment, and the development of dual-use infrastructure,” Admiral Aleksandr Moiseyev said to Izvestia.
The press meeting took place on board “Pyotr Velikiy”, the Russian navy’s powerful nuclear-powered battle cruiser.
The Northern Fleet Commander added that NATO warships’ presence in the Norwegian- and Barents Seas have reached levels unseen since Second World War, Associated Press reported from the press meeting.
He pointed to the increase of NATO exercises closer to Russian borders and increased flights by U.S. strategic bombers. “Such actions are provocative and have a negative impact on regional security,” Moiseyev said.
Last week, the U.S. Navy fast-attack submarine “USS New Mexico“ docked at a civilian port in Tromsø, northern Norway.
With more Russian nuclear-powered submarines sailing out from the Kola Peninsula, NATO submarines boost their presence up north.
The strategic importance of the waters from the shallow Barents Sea to the deeper Norwegian Sea increases as tensions in the Arctic are rising like they are in the Baltic Sea region and the Black Sea area.
On May 7th, the Northern Fleet received the first of the modern Yasen-M class multi-purpose nuclear-powered subs. The “Kazan” carries the advanced naval version of the cruise missiles Kalibr, Oniks and likely the hypersonic Zircon, as well as torpedoes and surface-to-air missiles. Another seven similar submarines are currently under construction at the Sevmash yard in Severodvinsk.
Missile defence exercise
On Saturday, NATO started Europe’s biggest and most complex air and missile drill, Exercise Formidable Shield. 15 warships and a dozen aircraft from ten NATO countries participate in the waters from north of Scotland to Andøya, inside the Arctic Circle off northern Norway.
The exercise will run until June 3rd.
One of the ships participating is the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer “USS Ross”, a ship with the capability to function as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.
Moscow has previously voiced concerns that the current increase in NATO sailings in the adjacent waters to Norway is part of the American anti-ballistic missile defense training.
On Saturday, the “USS Ross” visited the Faroe Islands.
“USS Ross’ presence in the North Atlantic Ocean demonstrates mutual commitment to regional security and stability as the ship prepares to participate in Exercise Formidable Shield,” the U.S 6th Fleet said in a press release.
NATO deputy spokesperson Piers Cazalet said in a statement the aim of the exercise is for NATO forces to work together “to defend populations from the very real threat of missiles.”
During the next two weeks, part of the war game will see ships train to detect and track a missile flying at more than 20,000km/h. Ships will also defend against an array of anti-ship and other sub and supersonic missiles.