What ARE the Russians up to? NATO fears grow over why ‘research vessels’ sent by Moscow have taken over mothballed secret Arctic base in mountain hideaway
- Three Russian ships that docked in Olavsvern Naval Base for the entire winter
- Base which was shut down in 2009 is nestled deep inside mountainous region
- Norway’s military fears Russian presence on ‘strategically important’ coastline
Concerns are growing over Russian ships that have docked in a once-secret naval base in the Arctic.
Military leaders in Norway are nervous about its powerful neighbour’s presence on its ‘strategically important’ coastline following a spike in tensions between Russia and NATO nations.
Some experts have criticised the shutting down of Olavsvern Naval Base – a huge complex buried in mountainous terrain near the town of Tromsoe – which has been closed since 2009.
But fears have once again peaked after three Russian ships spent the entire winter docked deep within the mountain hideaway which was once a heavily guarded military facility.
It was originally shut because the country’s leaders thought the threat from Moscow was reduced, despite its massive Northern Fleet which is base in the nearby Kola Peninsula.
Norway’s former vice admiral said shutting down the base was ‘pure madness’ while other critics say their submarines now have to travel hundreds of extra miles to protect the region.
This is far from the first time Russia has flexed its military muscles in other countries’ territory.
In February, a passenger plane had to be diverted to avoid two Russian bombers that flew through Irish-controlled airspace without warning.
The disruption on February 18 was thought to have occurred during the same incident in which British RAF Typhoon fighters were scrambled to escort the Russian vessels.
That move was perceived as a show of strength by Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine conflict after Prime Minister David Cameron accused him of challenging the ‘territorial integrity’ of Kiev.
It followed a separate incident when the Royal Navy had to intercept a Russian warship which strayed to close to the UK while passing through the English channel the same month.
The Neustrashimy-class warship – equipped with missiles, anti-aircraft guns and torpedoes – was monitored and escorted by a heavily-armed British frigate.
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