By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MOSCOW (Worthy News) – Russia fired nuclear-capable cruise missiles at “mock targets” in the seas separating it from the U.S. state of Alaska on Monday in what it said was an exercise to protect its northern shipping route in the Arctic.
The defense ministry said Vulcan, Granit, and Onyx cruise missiles were fired over distances of hundreds of kilometers to strike targets simulating enemy ships in the Bering Sea.
It comes amid mounting East-West tensions over the war in Ukraine and brought the confrontation closer than ever to U.S. territory.
The closest geographic point between the borders of the United States and Russia lies in the Bering Strait, located in the Pacific Ocean. The two countries are technically only 2.4 miles (3.8 kilometers) apart in that area, as Russia’s Big Diomede and Alaska’s Little Diomede islands are located there.
The exercise involved land-, ship- and submarine-launched missiles and included about 10,000 military personnel, as well as planes and helicopters, the defense ministry said Monday.
Officials said the drills of the Russian navy occurred on Russia’s Chukotka peninsula and in the Chukchi and Bering Seas and were supervised by commander-in-chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov.
Moscow claimed last year it planned to spend almost $30 billion by 2035 on developing the northern sea route. Scientists working for the United Nations say climate change has reduced sea ice in the Arctic, making the route more viable.
It runs across the top of Russia from Murmansk, near the borders with Norway and Finland, to the Bering Strait near Alaska. President Vladimir Putin revealed in a speech to the BRICS group of countries last month that Russia wants to construct new ports and fuel terminals and expand its icebreaker fleet in the area.
Yet Monday’s drills underscored Russia’s ambition to show force in the Arctic and the Far East despite strains on its armed forces from the 18-month war in Ukraine.
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