The destroyer "Vice Admiral Kulakov" is one of several Russian navy vessels now in the North Sea. Photo: Norwegian Armed Forces

Russian navy approaches NATO air- and missile defence exercise outside Northern Norway

The current Russian navy activities outside Norway are the highest since before the pandemic.
May 05, 2023


More than 20 warships, 35 aircraft and eight onshore units take part as 13 NATO Allied and partner nations on May 8 kicks off Formidable Shield, an exercise inside the Arctic Circle aimed at training air and missile defense.

Russian long-range cruise missiles pose a big threat to Norway’s military infrastructure in the north.

Last week, a government-appointed expert defense commission delivered its report, addressing the vulnerability against missiles in a scenario where Russia would activate its bastion defense to protect the ballistic missile submarines sailing out from the Kola Peninsula.

The Commission had one clear message: The security environment for Norway is “extremely challenging” and it was therefore  proposed “a significant increase in defence spending.”

Protecting the Norwegian Sea is what to be trained as the trans-Atlantic allies now sail north to the waters outside Andøya. A series of live-fire events against subsonic, supersonic and ballistic targets will take place. It is this kind of cruise missiles the Russian navy and air forces have launched on several training occasions in the Barents- and White Sea regions in recent years.


U.S. Navy and 12 other nations participate in exercise Formidable Shield 2023. Photo: Thomas Nilsen



“NATO Allied and partner nations field the most advanced technologies and capabilities in the world, and live fire rehearsals like Formidable Shield provide an ideal venue to integrate and mature these capabilities across all domains,” says Capt. Jon Lipps, Commander of Task Force 64 with the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

It is the United Kingdom and Norway that are host nations for the exercise which includes some 4,000 personnel. 

Meanwhile, seven Russian navy ships are currently in the North Sea area and the Norwegian Armed Forces say it “expects increased Russian activity in our maritime areas in the next weeks.”

The warships include the destroyer “Vice Admiral Kulakov”, four corvettes, the tanker “Kama” and the frigate “Admiral Grigorovich”. Earlier this week, Tu-142 maritime surveillance aircraft flew missions south to the North Sea from an air base on the Kola Peninsula. 

“This activity is the highest since before the pandemic,” the Norwegian Armed Forces says in a statement.

It is expected that the Russian navy vessels will sail international waters outside Norway in the weeks to come. The Formidable Shield exercise will last until May 26. 

“The Norwegian Armed Forces monitor the Russian activity closely, and we do this continuously together with our allies. We are familiar with the activity, and we have a good picture of what is happening outside our coast,” the statement says.


Norwegian navy vessel at port with a Russian crab vessel in the background. The three north Norwegian ports of Tromsø, Båtsfjord and Kirkenes still allow for Russian fishing vessels. Photo: Thomas Nilsen





The Barents Observer Newsletter

After confirming you're a real person, you can write your email below and we include you to the subscription list.

Privacy policy