Image: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service
Steve Elliott, a sailor aboard one of the fishing trawlers, reports hearing Russian communications on their ship's radio warning any commercial ship in the area to move out of the way:
Three warships and two support vessels of theirs were coming and would not turn. And they came marching right through the fleet.
USNORTHCOM, Russia's largest war game since the Soviet Era, "is taking place in international waters well outside the U.S. territorial sea," Russian officials say. The exercise, involving dozens of ships, aircraft, and submarines, is part of Russia’s efforts to establish its presence in the Arctic region and it is scheduled to continue into early September.
“We are building up our forces to ensure the economic development of the region,” Russia’s navy chief, Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov said. “We are getting used to the Arctic spaces.”
This unsettling display of force have prompted the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the U.S. Northern Command to closely monitor the situation for any pontential incursion into U.S. waters. On Thursday, NORAD sent two F-22 fighter jets to intercept a group of Tu-142 Russian patrol aircraft that came to within 50 nautical miles of Alaska.
"Our northern approaches have had an increase in foreign military activity as our competitors continue to expand their military presence and probe our defences," said General Glen D. VanHerck, commander of NORAD. "This year, we've conducted more than a dozen intercepts, the most in recent years. The importance of our continued efforts to project air defense operations in and through the north has never been more apparent."