The destroyer "Admiral Ushakov" sails out of Severomorsk, while "Admiral Lavshenko" stays at port. Photo: Press Service of the Northern Fleet

War games take up 150,000 km2 of the Barents Sea

15 navy ships, submarines and support vessels take part in the exercise. Navigation- and flight warnings are issued for a huge area along Russia’s maritime border with Norway.
May 20, 2023


Overlapping Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) marked Temporary Danger Area are activated for areas of more than 150,000 square kilometers of the Barents Sea until May 24 and 26. The warnings don’t specify which weapons there are to be used, or other reasons there are for shutting off such an enormous area.

The NOTAMs, which in size are as large as half of mainland Norway, cover the air space over waters from the Fishermen Peninsula in the south to about 74°N.

The Sea Port Administration for Western Arctic in Murmansk has published corresponding Navigational Warnings (PRIP) for the Barents Sea. Fishermen and cargo vessels have to either sail around the closed waters or wait until late next week.

There are also warnings for areas in the White Sea, north of Nenoksa missile test range as well as in the waters where Russia traditionally tests new nuclear-powered submarines off the southern coast of the Kola Peninsula. NOTAMs are as well covering larger parts of mainland Murmansk region and northern Karelia.


Russia warns civilian air traffic to stay away from the red-marked areas until May 24 and 26. Map generated from and Google Earth


A few of the Northern Fleet’s warships have over the last few days exercised closer to the coast of Murmansk. The destroyer “Admiral Ushakov” practiced artillery shootings at land targets along the east coast of the Fishermen Peninsula, while anti-submarine ships hunted for mock enemy subs both in the Kola Bay and in the White Sea region.


On Friday evening, the press service of the Northern Fleet said a total of 15 warships and submarines, supported by the air force and coastal air defense units, are involved in “a number of exercises” in the Barents Sea. 

The Russian navy drills in the Barents Sea kick off simultaneously as NATO’s Formidable Shield live-fire exercise goes on further west, in the Norwegian Sea and North Sea regions.

14 NATO and partner nations sailed north in early May with more than 20 warships and 35 aircraft. A core goal of the exercise is to train protection against subsonic, supersonic and ballistic missiles.

The Barents Observer previously reported that Russia has deployed about 15 long-range strategic bombers, Tu-95 and Tu-160, at its Olenya Air Base on the Kola Peninsula. The aircraft carries cruise missiles with a range of up to 3,500 km and can soon after take off in the North and launch attacks are practically any targets in Scandinavia.

The bombers have this May participated in multiple sorties with missile launches on Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv.

On May 29, Norway, Finland and Sweden kick off Western Europe’s largest fighter jet exercise this year, the Arctic Challenge 2023. Fourteen nations with 150 aircraft will take part in combat training in the air space over mid-Norway, northern Sweden and Finland.

Photo gallery below shows the Northern Fleet’s ongoing naval exercises in the Barents- and Kara Seas. 



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