Russia sent military marine engineers to ‘demine’ the Arctic

On the 9th of January, the Russian Ministry of Defense declared that they had dispatched military marine engineers to the Arctic. This marks the first practical field training in the Far North and Arctic conducted by servicemen from the Northern Fleet’s independent Marine Engineer Regiment in 2024. 

Russia sent military marine engineers to 'demine' the Arctic
Photo credit: Russian MoD

In this training, the servicemen practiced supporting the travel of motorized rifle units in the Arctic conditions. A group focusing on reconnaissance and demining, part of the movement support detachment, was tasked with detecting and eliminating both open mines and anti-personnel mines. They executed these tasks along the travel route using specially designed reconnaissance and demining equipment. 

This training effort underlines the elevated significance of the Arctic to Russia’s defense strategy in 2024. The involvement of this engineer regiment leans towards demining, making it the third consistent military demonstration by Russia in the Arctic within the first nine days of the year. 

Russia sent military marine engineers to 'demine' the Arctic
Photo credit: Russian MoD

As a reminder, BulgarianMilitary.com reported that Moscow, as early as the 6th of January, voiced plans to maintain their long-range bombers in flight over the Arctic. It was noted in 2024, that the Russian Ministry of Defense [RuMoD] sought to use the aviation assets of the Northern Fleet to monitor operations across the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

In a recent press bulletin, the military branch of The Ministry revealed, “The pilots of our Northern Fleet’s extended-range Tu-142 anti-submarine aircraft will continue their frequent flights in essential operation zones across the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.” This undertaking will be a prime focus for the crews managing these aircraft in the coming year, the Russian military confirmed. 

Last year, the Tu-142 anti-submarine aircraft crews displayed unwavering dedication by conducting numerous missions over the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans’ international airspace. 

Tu-142 anti-submarine warfare aircraft detected enemy submarines
Photo by Alexander Kazakov

Just a day prior, on January 5, Russia unveiled the initiation of mock warfare drills involving its submarine fleet from the Baltic Fleet, projected for 2024. These practical exercises are primarily directed at the Russian Northern Fleet’s nuclear submarines. As reported by insiders quoting the fleet’s press service, the curriculum includes a wide array of theoretical and hands-on training, all aimed at enhancing skills in Arctic ice navigation. 

The Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation has officially confirmed these practical and theoretical drills will transpire during the 2024 winter season. The press bulletin underscored that “Mastering under-ice navigation will be a key objective for the submariners of the Northern Fleet in 2024.” 

The Arctic region holds considerable strategic value for Russia due to multiple factors. Primarily, it acts as a natural fortification, delivering a degree of guard against probable threats. The superiorly harsh and unwelcoming climate of the Arctic poses significant navigation challenges, thus presenting a form of intrinsic protection. 

Russia's new silent Borei-class sub carrying 16 nukes to be tested
Photo credit: YouTube

Without a doubt, the Arctic region serves as a vital base for a considerable segment of Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces. Uniquely, the Northern Fleet encompasses nuclear submarines, and this fleet finds its home within the Arctic area. These submarines possess the capability of firing intercontinental ballistic missiles, and their Arctic placement provides a challenging detection and accessibility location, fortifying Russia’s strategic safety. 

In addition, the Arctic offers Russia a prime position for the supervision and governance of the Northern Sea Route [NSR]. This maritime route is growing in significance with the progress of climate change and Arctic ice dissolution, which is paving the way for fresh shipping channels. Having control over the NSR delivers not only economic rewards but strategic gains as well. 

Concluding, the Arctic region is abundantly filled with natural assets such as oil, gas, and minerals. These resources play a key role in bolstering Russia’s economy. Naturally, the importance of defending these valuable commodities resonates as an issue of economic safety for Russia.

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