Nearest NATO country Norway was not informed in advance about the fearsome drills which involve 36 warships, 20 aircraft and some of Russia’s most powerful weaponry.
These are the latest of frequent military exercises called by Putin amid high tension with the West and fears over Moscow’s growing offensive capability and intended tons to be boss of the Arctic.
In this case, 150 different rocket and artillery systems and special equipment will be deployed.
Ignoring any concerns of up to one million foreign football fans for the World Cup, Russia is staging the war games which purport to test the country’s readiness for a mass invasion.
The Russian flotilla has sailed from Arctic naval base Severomorsk some 875 miles north of Repino where the England team is based close to St Petersburg.
The exercise until the end of next week will involve the missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov, giant anti-submarine ship Severomorsk, the fleet destroyer Admiral Ushakov, nuclear-powered and diesel-electric submarines, as well as landing ships Kondopoga, Georgy Pobedonosets, and Alexander Otrakovsky, and other marine craft.
Nineteen practical firing exercises using artillery, rocket, mine and torpedo weapons will be carried out, said the Russian Northern Fleet.
A source said: ”There are plans to test new marine weapons.”
The 36 warships are sailing to the Barents Sea along the Kola Peninsula coast, leading to the closure of vast swathes of the Barents Sea to civilian shipping.
Passenger planes have been banned from using airspace during the war games.
A spokesman said: ”This is the first time in the summer training session the large antisubmarine warfare ship Severomorsk has gone to sea.
“The exercise is aimed at sharpening the servicemen’s maritime skills.”
The seamen will practice damage control operations and check shipborne weapons and equipment.
A spokesman at Norway’s military Joint Head Quarters, Major Brynjar Stordal, told the Barents Observer that Norway had not been informed about the naval drill.
He said: “Russian forces in the north over time have had a relatively high level of activities in different fields, something they have all rights to do within (their) own territory and in international waters and airspace.”
Major Stordal says Russia’s military activities in areas close to Norway are of course monitored in order to “maintain a satisfactory understanding of the situation”.
The Northern Fleet, with headquarters in Severomorsk north of Murmansk, is the largest of Russia’s four fleets.