Russia conducts naval drill in Baltic Sea
Iran Press TV
Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:49AM
Russia is conducting a defense drill in the Baltic Sea, involving more than 20 vessels from the country's Baltic Fleet, as part of the Russian Northern Fleet exercises.
The press service of Russia's Western Military District said Wednesday in a statement that various ships of the auxiliary fleet, diesel-electric submarines, small missile and anti-submarine boats are participating in the drill.
"At sea, the Baltic Fleet ships merged into several tactical groups and are ready to perform the intended tasks on anti-submarine and air defense," the statement read.
According to the military district, the drill will also include artillery fire exercises involving corvettes of Project 20380, diesel-electric submarines, missile boats, submarine chasers, mine sweepers, and support vessels.
The announcement came after the Russian Defense Ministry said the country's Navy had begun exercises in the Barents Sea, a marine area located off the northern coasts of Russia and Norway.
The two exercises are part of the Russian Northern Fleet snap military drills, which will continue until March 21 and include land, sea and air activities.
The drills in the Arctic region started on March 16, as President Vladimir Putin ordered the Northern Fleet on full alert. The snap exercises involve 38,000 servicemen, 110 aircraft, 50 surface ships and submarines in the area.
Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said the drills are aimed at beefing up Russian forces in Arctic Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land archipelagos and to protect the Russian borders on land, in the air and at sea.
The decision to strengthen Russia's defense capabilities comes as the Western military alliance NATO has conducted numerous exercises and plans to expand its military presence in Eastern Europe amid the crisis in Ukraine.
In 2014, NATO forces held some 200 military exercises, with the alliance's General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg having promised that such drills would continue.
Moscow has repeatedly condemned NATO's exercises and military buildup toward its borders.
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