US holds first Barents Sea exercise since 1990s
The first US-led exercise in the Barents Sea since the 1990s is underway, involving three Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers and a USN fast combat support ship as well as the UK RN’s Duke-class HMS Kent to assert freedom of navigation and demonstrate integration between the two allies.
Climate change-related melting of glaciers and ice caps in the Arctic is opening up new operational environments, prompting UK and US forces to adapt accordingly.
Adm James Foggo, US Naval Forces Commander in Europe, said: ‘All this presents new geostrategic challenges… The High North is attracting global interest with abundant natural resources and opening maritime routes.’
Foggo also suggested that more exercises and deployments will be held in or near the Arctic by the US in the future.
Russia in October 2019 launched the 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missile-armed icebreaker Ivan Papanin, as it attempts to assert its dominance in the Arctic. Similarly, China has expressed interest in the region, calling itself a ‘near-Arctic nation’.
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