MOSCOW, March 19 (UPI) -- Russia mobilized its Navy in the Arctic Ocean this week with a drill that included a practice attack on a nuclear submarine Thursday.
The exercise in the Barents Sea, between Russia and Norway, involved a designated submarine and was designed to test the capability of what the Russian Ministry of Defense calls a "strike and search group" to locate a submarine and compel it to the surface. The ministry announced Thursday the test was a success.
The exercise was an element of the Northern Fleet's "full alert" status this week, which began Monday and will continue until Mar. 21. The order allows the mobilization of 38,000 personnel, 41 ships, 15 submarines and 110 aircraft, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu said.
It comes after NATO drills in northern and Eastern Europe, and maritime exercises in the Black Sea. "Such NATO actions lead to destabilization of the situation and increasing tensions in northeastern Europe," Russian deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Meshkov said earlier this week.
Oana Lungescu, a NATO spokeswoman, responded by pointing out the NATO drills involved considerably fewer personnel than the Russian mobilization; only six ships and 1,200 sailors took part in the Black Sea exercises.
Lungescu added, "Russia has conducted about a dozen snap exercises over the past two years. Russia's takeover of Crimea was done under the guise of a snap exercise. Russia's snap exercises run counter to the spirit of the Vienna Document on confidence and security-building measures," a reference to a 2011 accord in which transparency in military maneuvers and transfers of information by all sides in Europe was promised.