Russia confirms military flight exercise between North Pole and North America

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By Kristina Harazim  with Reuters
Russia has confirmed military training flight via N Pole to N America
Russia has confirmed military training flight via N Pole to N America

The Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, addressed senior military commanders in Moscow where he said the exercise involved anti-submarine aircraft.

He did not confirm when it took place.

"For the first time since Soviet times anti-submarine aircraft flights have been carried out via the North Pole towards the North American continent," he said.

"The construction of unique self-sufficient military villages is being completed, which were built with the latest technology on the islands of Franz Josef Land and the Novosibirsk Islands."

The announcement coincided with a major US-British naval exercise in the Arctic Circle, which Britain said gave its submariners a chance to learn and develop skills to operate under the Arctic ice cap.

The United States-led drills, called Exercise 18 (ICEX), were coordinated by the US Navy's Arctic Submarine Laboratory and involved Britain's HMS Trenchant and two North American submarines, the USS Connecticut and the USS Hartford.

Both exercises come at a time of heightened tensions over the poisoning of former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal in the UK.

Russia has embarked on its most significant military push in the Arctic region since the Soviet fall in 1991, beefing up its military presence and capabilities.

The Arctic is estimated to hold more hydrocarbon reserves than Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Video editor • Kristina Harazim