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Russian Northern Fleet to equal military district in status


The Russian Defense Ministry wants to change the status of the united strategic Northern fleet command. It will develop into an independent military-administrative entity in December and will equal a military district. The fleet will be in charge of four regions: Komi, Nenets district, Arkhangelsk and Murmansk regions. A draft presidential decree on the new status has been prepared, the Izvestia daily said.


Russian Northern Fleet to equal military district in status Northern Fleet's vessels taking part in the active phase of the Russian-Norwegian exercise Barents-2016 (Picture Source: Arctic Info)


The Northern fleet command is an inter-arm strategic formation of the armed forces with the main base in Severomorsk. It was created on December 1, 2014, to protect Russian national interests in the Arctic. At that time the Western Military District provided territories and units to the Northern fleet which was later reinforced by ground units of the Central and Eastern Military Districts deployed beyond the Polar Circle.

Sources in the Northern fleet said the command had been until recently an experimental formation. It had to be clarified whether it can cope with the task of defending Russian interests in the Arctic. In 2016, the fleet held large-scale drills for two months to train interaction of the navy, aviation and ground forces. The manoeuvres engaged warships, submarines, strategic bombers, fighter jets, air defence S-300, S-400 and Pantsir, as well as motorized rifles and marines.

The exercise trained to protect northern Russian regions from various threats ranging from massive missile strikes to the amphibious assault of the potential adversary. The manoeuvres confirmed the effectiveness of the Arctic military grouping. The experimental formation was recognized successful and the Defense Ministry decided to up its status.

Expert Anton Lavrov believes the decision was due to the search for an optimal staff matrix of the Northern fleet. "The decision of the Defense Ministry confirms the Arctic is a priority military guideline for us," he said.

"The northern territories are specifically important for the Russian defence. The new status reflects the specific navy role in the Arctic," expert Viktor Murakhovsky agreed.

The government has recently drafted specific navigation rules to protect the Northern Sea Route. Foreign warships and vessels will have to inform Russia about their plans 45 days in advance and take Russian pilots onboard. The navigation can be denied in case of unsanctioned sailing along the Northern Sea Route. Experts believe Russia can resort to extreme measures up to an arrest of the vessel.

The Northern fleet has a naval and ground component. Its command is in charge of surface and underwater craft and the aviation of the fleet, as well as Belomorsk naval base and the Kola flotilla. The fleet also operates supply vessels, ground and air defence formations.

The 14th army corps joined the coastal troops in 2017 with two motorized rifle brigades: the 80th in Alakurtti settlement and the 200th in Pechenga. They are armed with snow vehicles TREKOL-39294 and Berkut, quads, tracked cross-country DT-30 Vityaz vehicles, T-80BVM tanks, upgraded MTLB, drones and air-cushioned boats.

Officers and men of the Arctic motorized rifle brigades are specifically trained to fight on skis and drive deer and dog sledges. The 61st Kirkenes Red Banner marine brigade will operate on land, if necessary. The 45th air force and defence army protect naval and ground forces from the air. It includes the 1st and 3rd air defence divisions and the 98th combined air regiment deployed in Monchegorsk. The army is deployed on the mainland and Novaya Zemlya, Staraya Zemlya and Franz-Joseph Land Archipelagos.

The 45th army is actively rearmed. Last year its radar forces were renewed. This year one unit has to be rearmed with S-400 air defence. The army will receive antiaircraft 40N6 missiles to strike at cruise missiles, aircraft and manoeuvring warheads at a distance of 400 km.

One of the army regiments has been recently armed with Pantsir-S which is to defend S-300 and S-400 and important military and administrative facilities. The higher the status, the bigger the strength of the Northern fleet command, the Izvestia writes.


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