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Russian Navy's guided missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey. Alamy Stock Photo
Naval Exercises

Russian Navy releases details of anti-submarine drills off coast of Norway

In Ireland, the Russian ambassador is to appear before an Oireachtas committee on Wednesday.

LAST UPDATE | 31 Jan 2022

THE RUSSIAN NAVY has released details of its drills off the coast of Norway in recent days as they simulated submarine hunting with ships and aircraft. 

The ships from the Russian Northern Fleet are suspected to be the vessels destined for naval drills in the Atlantic off the coast of Ireland. 

Those drills are due to start on Thursday and a Russian oil tanker, thought to be supplying the vessels with fuel, has also begun to move south through the North Sea en route to the English channel, according to tracking data.

The details of the exercise were released by the Russian Government via its Tass News Agency

In a short press release the Northern Fleet said that the Arctic expeditionary force, which is part of the Russian Northern Fleet, practiced anti-submarine warfare in the Norwegian Sea. 

“The crews of the missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov and the frigate Fleet Admiral Kasatonov hunted down the notional enemy’s submarines with the help of an anti-submarine warfare helicopter,” the press office said in a statement.

The press release also revealed that Ka-27m helicopters, flying from the deck of the frigate Admiral Kasatonov carried out sweeps to find the submarine using “radio-technical equipment and an onboard sonar”.

The Journal first broke news of the drills off the Irish coast two weeks. 

Initially the Russians were going to conduct their planned exercise inside the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone, 240kms off the Cork coast.

This weekend the Russians decided to move their tests citing an intervention from the Department of Foreign Affairs and protests from the West Cork fishing fleet.

They have not said where the new drills will take place but they are expected to go ahead on Thursday.

The Atlantic drills are just one aspect of a major set of practice manoeuvres by the Russians in the Mediterranean, North and Okhotsk Seas, in the northeastern Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.

The global operation, the Russians have said, will see 140 warships and support vessels, more than 60 aircraft, 1,000 items of military hardware and about 10,000 troops.

Meanwhile Minister for Justice Helen McEntee this morning defended Ireland’s record on defence following comments that the forces were under-resourced. 

Independent TD Cathal Berry told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics yesterday that Ireland is seen internationally as a weak point in the EU’s security, while Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney told RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme that he has accepted “for a long time” that the Defence Forces are under-resourced

Coveney has commissioned a report to assess Ireland’s defence capabilities, which is expected to be published in the coming weeks.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, McEntee said the report will highlight how much needs to be spent on the Defence Forces, but said Ireland’s position as a neutral country and work as peacekeepers overseas “is not coming into question here”. 

“What I think is clear though, and I’m not sure if there’s any suggestion otherwise, is that our position as a neutral country and our responsibility and the work of our Defence Forces peacekeepers across the globe has been internationally recognised and decorated and responded to in such a positive light over 50 or 60 years,” she said.

“But as a country ourselves, our capabilities, and do we need to do more? You know, it is a question that we need to have an answer to, that hopefully, this report will give us clearer direction to as well.”

The Russian ambassador to Ireland, Yury Anatoliyevich Filatov, has accepted an invitation to come before an Oireachtas Committee this week.

He will appear before the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence at 5.30pm on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs will meet to discuss the role of the EU in the Russia/Ukraine crisis.

The committee will hear from Professor Donnacha Ó Beacháin, who lectures on post-Soviet politics in DCU, and UCD Professor of International Relations Ben Tonra.

The Russian ambassador recently met with the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Seán Clancy, at McKee Barracks on 21 January.

The Russian embassy said the pair discussed Russian-Irish relations and “international agenda, as well as prospects of contacts between armed forces of two countries”.

Additional reporting by Lauren Boland

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