Russian Northern Fleet stages Arctic drills

Russian military moves are being closely watched by the West at a time when a troop build-up near its border with Ukraine has sparked fears of a conflict. Moscow has denied its plans to launch an attack on Ukraine.

Moscow said last week it would stage a series of drills involving all its fleets in the seas adjacent to Russia. The exercises will also include maneuvers in the Mediterranean, the North Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, the northeast Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific.

Wednesday's drills in the Arctic, which involve around 30 warships, 20 aircraft and 1,200 personnel, are designed to assess troops' combat readiness in the Arctic and their ability to protect the Northern Sea Route.

The exercises will see troops rehearse repelling military threats and help "ensure the security of sea lanes and Russia's areas of maritime economic activity in the northern seas in the event of a crisis," the Northern Fleet said.

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