Russia Starts Exercises With 60 Warships In Baltic Sea Amid Tensions Over Ukraine War
Russia has announced that it has started naval exercises involving about 60 warships in the Baltic Sea amid heightened tensions over the Ukraine war and bids by Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
These images were obtained from the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), which said the footage showed the “planned operational exercise with groups of the Baltic Fleet.”
The footage shows Russian warships performing maneuvers at sea, with the Russian MoD saying that the exercises involved “about 60 surface warships, boats and support vessels, over 40 aircraft and helicopters, as well as up to 2,000 units of weapons, military and special equipment of the Baltic Fleet.”
The Russian MoD said in a statement on Thursday, June 9: “In the Baltic Sea and at the combat training ranges in the Kaliningrad region, a planned operational exercise with groups of the Baltic Fleet has started.
“As part of the exercise, naval tactical groups of the Baltic Fleet left their bases and deployed fleet groupings in designated areas.”
The Russian MoD added that the vessels “will perform training tasks for the protection and defense of sea lanes and fleet bases.”
It also said: “About 60 surface warships, boats and support vessels, over 40 aircraft and helicopters, as well as up to 2,000 units of weapons, military and special equipment of the Baltic Fleet are involved in the exercise.”
The Baltic Sea is located in northern Europe. Technically an eastern arm of the Atlantic Ocean, it is ringed by NATO member states Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.
It is also enclosed by Finland, Sweden, and Russia. Finland and Sweden recently submitted applications to join NATO amid heightened concern after Russia invaded Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO, in February. The move by Finland and Sweden has angered Russia.
Russia quit the Council of the Baltic Sea States last month, accusing the organization of having become “an instrument of anti-Russian policy” and “increasingly bogged down in Russophobia and lies.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on May 17 that it was leaving the Council, which is headquartered in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden and is made up of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and the European Union, amid heightened tensions over its invasion of Ukraine.
The statement was issued at the same time as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany planned to increase its military ties with Sweden and Finland. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has, among others, also announced a rapprochement with Sweden and Finland, signing a security pact with both countries last month and announcing that the United Kingdom would “provide support” if the two nations were attacked.
We contacted Russian and Ukrainian officials for comment but had not received a reply at the time of writing.
Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin is still calling a “special military operation.” June 9 marks the 106th day of the campaign.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has reported that between February 24 and June 9, Russia had lost 31,700 personnel, 1,398 tanks, 3,438 armored fighting vehicles, 711 artillery units, 213 multiple launch rocket systems, 96 anti-aircraft systems, 212 planes, 178 helicopters, 2,421 motor vehicles and fuel tankers, 13 ships and boats, 562 drones, 53 special equipment units and 125 cruise missiles.
Over 1,000 Ukrainian troops captured in Mariupol have been transferred to Russia, according to Russian media.
Satellite imagery has shown significant damage in the key eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, where heavy fighting is ongoing.
The Ukrainian military said that Ukrainian positions had come under “intense fire” around Avdiivka, Novopavlivska, and Zaporizhzhia.
It added that siege operations were underway around Slovyansk and that Russia had also intensified its aircraft use around Bakhmut.
The United Kingdom and the United States are sending long-range missile systems to Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of more attacks in Ukraine if the West sends long-range weapons.
Russian missiles struck Kyiv on Sunday, June 4, in the first assault on the Ukrainian capital in weeks.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Russian attacks on the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk have turned them into “dead cities.” But he added that Ukrainian forces could still hold Severodonetsk despite being outnumbered.
This week, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, walked out of a Security Council meeting after his country was blamed by European Council president Charles Michel for triggering a global food crisis.
The European Parliament has adopted a resolution recommending that the European Union grant Ukraine the status of candidate country for EU membership. Some 438 members of the European Parliament voted in favor of the resolution, with 65 voting against and 94 abstaining.