Russia reinforces Arctic naval group

Russia continues to build warships for the Arctic naval force. The Ivan Papanin lead patrol ice-class ship of project 23550 was floated on October 25. The gala ceremony took place at the Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg, the Military-Industrial Courier writes.

Russia reinforces Arctic naval group Russian navy Arctic patrol vessel Project 23550 (Picture source: Russian MoD )

The Ivan Papanin is designed for constant monitoring of the environment in a complicated ice situation and for escorting and towing detained vessels to seaports, accompanying and supporting supply vessels, participating in rescue operations, transporting special cargoes. The displacement is close to 8500 tons. The ship is over a hundred meters long and close to 20 meters wide. The cruising capacity is 60 days. The warship is armed with AK-176MA artillery gun.

"The ship was designed by Almaz bureau on the basis of available experience. It is very successful," expert Mikhail Nenashev said. "The Ivan Papanin will operate in the Arctic. The warship will protect the Northern Sea Route, it can break ice and tow ships. Such a combination of functions in one ship is very important in the Arctic," he said.

The Ivan Papanin is another link in the maritime security of Russia in the strategic Arctic region where the struggle to control resources is developing. Washington leads the standoff and wants to dictate to the world, mostly Russia, its terms of operation in the Arctic. Thus, Commander of the US Naval Forces Europe - Naval Forces Africa James Foggo told the Washington Examiner in February 2019 that Russia considers the Arctic as its own space, while it is an international territory and should be free and open for all. The Arctic and the Northern Sea Route should be equally used by all countries of the Arctic Council and nobody should claim a monopoly to it, the admiral said.

NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe Curtis Scaparotti told the US Senate armed forces committee in March 2019 that the Northern Sea Route was becoming open for a longer time. Thus, its commercial and resource value is growing and creates competition. As the Northern Sea Route goes close to Russia, it reopened airfields in the region, installed radars and periodically deploys various arms to control the region, the general said.

It remains for Russia to strengthen the defense. The Ivan Papanin is a modern warship of the Russian Arctic naval force. The United States has to understand there is international law and Washington cannot dictate to Russia how to develop the Northern Sea Route, first deputy chair of the State Duma defense committee Andrey Krasov said.

"Russia does not violate the norms of international law. A part of the Northern Sea Route goes in our territorial waters. We are not compelling the USA to do something close to the coast of Alaska. We only want to observe the existing norms and everybody, including the USA, have to comply with them," he said.

He recalled article 234 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which says that "Costal States have the right to adopt and enforce non-discriminatory laws and regulations for the prevention, reduction and control of marine pollution from vessels in ice-covered areas within the limits of the exclusive economic zone, where particularly severe climatic conditions and the presence of ice covering such areas for most of the year create obstructions or exceptional hazards to navigation, and pollution of the marine environment could cause major harm to or irreversible disturbance of the ecological balance."

"It means Russia can toughen the passage rules for foreign ships in the Northern Sea Route to protect the environment," Krasov said.

Russia is protecting the Northern Sea Route. The government drafted the rules for foreign ships in the Northern Sea Route. The countries of origin have to notify about the sorties 45 days ahead. It is necessary to give the vessel name, route, aim and time of the navigation. Access may be denied in case of unsanctioned navigation in the Northern Sea Route. Russia may resort to extreme measures up to an arrest of the vessel, the Military-Industrial Courier said.

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