Russian Navy Practices Anti-Submarine Combat in Baltic and Arctic

Russia navy Baltic Arctic drill
A Russian missile corvette is anchored on the Neva River in St.Petersburg, July 22, 2010. Russia will mark its Navy Day on Sunday. Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters

The Russian navy has practiced anti-submarine combat in both the Baltic Sea and the Arctic Barents Sea in consecutive drills, as its naval reinforcement in the two regions continues.

Russia's military drills from all branches of the armed forces have increased this year, since Moscow was put under sanctions by the United States and the European Union over its interference in Ukraine. Its exercises in the Baltic and Arctic are particularly controversial, because Russia shares both regions almost exclusively with NATO member states.

Its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad borders Poland on one side and Lithuania on the other, while the other four countries that have a territorial claim on the Arctic besides Russia are all NATO members - Denmark, Norway, Canada and the U.S.

The Russian Baltic Fleet sent out three corvette vessels, Boykiy, Stoykiy and Soobrazitelny, along with two anti-submarine Ka-27PL helicopters, against a designated enemy in the form of the Russian submarine Vyborg, according to state news agency Itar-Tass.

The Vyborg submarine is billed by the navy as one of the quietest submarines in the world and, according to Vladimir Matveev the Baltic Fleet captain, it was charged with disrupting the ships' landing attempts.

After tracking the submarine, the corvettes and helicopters managed to force the submarine to resurface. This is the second day the three ships have practiced in the Baltic Sea as yesterday the naval press office reported that they practiced live artillery fire at naval and aerial targets.

Meanwhile Russia's North Fleet also sent out vessels to simulate anti-submarine combat, dispatching the Brest and Yunga anti-submarine ships into the Barents Sea near the Arctic today.

"We have planned to complete the naval anti-submarine combat phase of training today," Northern Fleet captain Vadim Serga told Tass before the exercise. "The crews of the small anti-submarine ships will perform torpedo attacks and firing the reaction engine-bomb installation RBU-6000," he said referring to the ships' anti-submarine rocket launcher.

According to Serga the ships have also conducted practice with naval aviation such as the Ka-27 helicopters and Il-38 maritime patrol plane, refined communication and simulated emergency response on board.

Russia has previously practiced live fire artillery drills in the Baltic when it sent its largest amphibious hovercraft there in May. Baltic defence officials from both Lithuania and Estonia have expressed concern at the number of Russian military exercises near their territories.

Speaking about snap drills in particular, both defence ministries of Estonia or Lithuania said that they could not rule out that Russia could using an exercise as a cover for a larger redeployment of forces toward their borders.