Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 17 February 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Russia Holds Naval Drills From The Arctic To Syria
Russia is now seeing an array of drills that serve as a tool to pressure Ukraine and the West. What should arouse a particular interest is a navy exercise in the Black Sea. Its scale and flotilla, as the latter includes amphibious assault ships that sailed from the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, suggests that Russia’s military showcase could play its role in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
On February 15, more than twenty ships from Russia’s Northern fleet have started drills in the Barents Sea. The exercises in the waters between Russia and Norway are part of broader drills. The Russian fleet is also staging maneuvers in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. On the same day, Russia said it would start navy drills in the Mediterranean Sea. Russia has deployed MiG-31K fighter jets with hypersonic Kinzhal missiles and long-range Tupolev Tu-22M3 strategic bombers to its air base in Syria for naval exercises. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Russian naval drills would take place in the eastern Mediterranean and involve 15 warships and 30 aircraft, including two missile cruisers: Varyag and Marshal Ustinov. What yet is of key importance is Black Sea drills (February 13–19) as they take place close to Ukraine that Russia could invade. Staging these exercises in this area could negatively affect trade with Ukrainian sea ports. “Due to joint efforts and quick response, we have prevented the blocking of the Black Sea ports of Ukraine. The corridor determined by the research guarantees the ships safe passage through the Gulf of Odesa,” Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on February 15. The Ukrainian infrastructure ministry is developing a safe maritime corridor for navigation of vessels in the Black Sea near the Dniester bank, the ministry reported on Facebook. Earlier, the country’s foreign ministry had protested a decision by Russia to block parts of the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Kerch Strait under the pretext of holding naval exercises.
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