Russia begins large-scale military exercises in Arctic

The Russian Defense Ministry has initiated large-scale maneuvers with its Strategic Nuclear Forces (RVSN) in the Arctic.

The Grom-2019 (“Thunder-2019”) exercise will involve more than 12,000 military personnel, 213 RVSN launchers, 105 aircraft, including five strategic missile carriers, 15 surface ships and five nuclear submarines, as well as 310 items of combat and special equipment, the TASS news agency reports, citing a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry.

During the maneuvers, cruise and ballistic missiles will be launched. Airports for long-range, military transport and tactical aircraft will be used, as well as testing ranges of the military districts and North Fleet and naval testing areas in multiple seas, including the Barents, Baltic, Black, Okhotsk and Caspian Seas.

The goal of the drills is to practice “using the strategic forces under the threat of aggression”, said Major General Yevgeny Ilyin, acting head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s main directorate for international military cooperation, in a press conference for foreigners.

He remarked that the exercise is routine and purely defensive in nature, intended to train the troops to deter a potential adversary.

The soldiers will launch 16 missiles, Ilyin noted. Ground-based cruise missiles and guided aircraft missiles will be launched from four aircraft testing ranges belonging to Russia’s western, southern and central military districts and the North Fleet.

“In addition, there will be launches of Yars (SS-29) intercontinental ballistic missiles and Sineva (SS-N-23) ballistic missiles from the Kura testing range,” the major general noted.

He added that “at the naval testing ranges in the Barents, Baltic, Black, Caspian and Okhotsk Seas, there will be practice launches of sea-based cruise missiles”.

Ilyin also remarked that Russia has no international obligation to disclose information about such exercises, and that doing so is a “voluntary gesture”. The press conference was attended by roughly 100 members of the military diplomatic corps of countries other than Russia.

The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the exercise will be held between October 15 and 17.

  RVSN, Grom-2019, Arctic