The operation is aimed at ensuring freedom of navigation.
Four US Navy ships entered the Barents Sea for the first time in decades as part of operations aimed at ensuring freedom of navigation in the Arctic Circle.
American surface vessels, unlike submarines that regularly sail in Arctic waters, have not conducted operations in the Barents Sea since the mid-1980s.
“In these difficult times, it is especially important to maintain a stable flow of operations throughout the European theater,” said Vice Admiral Lisa Franchetti, commander of the Sixth fleet.
She added that the operation is key to strengthening the foundations of preparedness in the Arctic, where severe weather conditions pose a serious challenge to ships.
The Russian Ministry of defense notified the ships of their entry into the Barents Sea on Friday “to avoid misunderstandings, reduce risk and prevent unintended escalation,” the US Sixth fleet said in a statement.
General Tod Wolters, commander of the European Command of the US armed forces and Supreme commander of the joint NATO forces in Europe, speaking in February to the Senate armed services Committee, noted that the situation in the Arctic continues to cause “serious concern” for the Alliance against the background of increased military activity of Russia and China in this region.
He suggested that the US should maintain the same level of concentration in the Arctic as in the Baltic region and other regions.
In March, NATO exercises started in the Arctic, but they were terminated prematurely by the decision of the Norwegian government in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. The cold response maneuvers were part of the giant Defender of Europe 2020 exercise, various elements of which were canceled, postponed, or modified due to COVID – 19.