During the past week, the Norwegian Coast Guard has observed the activities of the Russian cruiser “Peter the Great”, according to the Norwegian Armed Forces. The cruiser has operated near the “Banana Hole”, a sea area located between Norway and Greenland, and is allegedly the largest vessel of the Northern Fleet currently at sea.
The Banana Hole is an international sea area in the Norwegian Sea located between the economic zones of Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland, as well as the fish protection zone near Svalbard and the fisheries zone near Jan Mayen.
The Russian cruiser “Peter the Great” has sailed in this area lately, followed by the Norwegian coast guard vessel Nordkapp, according to a press release from the Norwegian Armed Forces on Sunday night.
A cruiser is a fast, large warship with significant strike power. The vessel in question runs on nuclear fuel and is of the Kirov class, and Russia allegedly has two of the kind.
The Russian Northern Fleet’s voyage is legal and taking place in international waters. With its patrolling nearby, the Norwegian Coast Guard demonstrates presence and observes military activity.
This kind of Russian military activity is not unusual, in particular not in connection with large military exercises in Norway, such as the currently ongoing Cold Response 2022, according to the Armed Forces. Russia was invited to observe the exercise, however, it declined the invitation.
All parties behave professional and respectfully, and this contributes to predictability and stability in the High North, the Armed Forces state.
Has announced shooting exercises at sea
Last Sunday, the cruiser “Peter the Great” and a submarine fighter of the Udaly class were discovered and followed north of Finnmark by a Norwegian Orion plane, which was on routine patrol, according to the Armed Forces.
Two other Russian military vessels have been observed north and south of the Lofoten and Vesterålen archipelago, where allied marine forces exercise during Cold Response.
In 2020, when Cold Response was last conducted, Russian forces conducted missile shooting tests off the North Norwegian coast. This was interpreted as a clear sign of Russian displeasure with the Norwegian-led winter exercise with its NATO allies.
Russia has, this time too, announced firing exercises at sea, says Rear Admiral Rune Andersen, who is Chief of the Norwegian Navy, to Norwegian daily VG. According to Andersen, submarines from the Northern Fleet have also set out to sea to monitor Cold Response, and he says all this Russian activity is to be expected.
Last week, the Armed Forces also announced that Russia has requested the establishing of a so-called NOTAM area (Notices to Airmen) in a key section of the Norwegian Sea, and that it subsequently is possible that these vessels will operate in that area. NOTAM, which is part of aviation information systems, consists of information that it is important for airmen to take notice of prior to their flights.
All the surface vessels mentioned above sailed legally in international waters and the Norwegian Armed Forces point out that there is no drama behind the Russian activity.
It is also pointed out that the Coast Guard vessels and maritime surveillance planes’ observations contribute to securing a good understanding of the situation.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.