The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported that in late 2019, at least ten Russian submarines “slipped out of their bases on Russia’s Arctic coast and set an underwater course westward toward the North Atlantic”. The Russian Defence Ministry has not commented on the issue yet.
The newspaper cited NATO military officials as calling the deployment "one of the largest [naval] exercises since the Cold War", reflecting the Russian Navy’s “ambition not only to defend its homeland but also to project power into the Atlantic”.
In particular, Vice Admiral Keith Blount, commander of NATO’s Allied Maritime Command, was quoted as saying that the alliance now routinely sees “more [Russian] submarines, further away, for longer periods of time”.
Mike Petersen, director of the Russia Maritime Studies Institute at the US Naval War College, for his part, described Russian subs as vehicles that “can cross the Atlantic and lay unnoticed off the East Coast, even strike targets in the US or Europe if left on their own”.
Separately, he heaped praise on the Russian Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines, which he said “are the most lethal, the stealthiest, and have the longest endurance, among the naval forces […]”.
Additionally, the WSJ referred to Russian Northern Fleet commander Alexander Moiseyev who pointed out earlier this year that the Russian Navy has expanded its geography of combat duty and patrolling over the past few months.
“Last year, our multi-purpose submarines drilled a number of tasks related to deep-sea diving in various areas of the neutral waters of the Norwegian Sea”, he said in an interview with the Russian news network Zvezda.
According to Moiseyev, Northern Fleet submarines "took an active part in the Ocean Shield exercises, also successfully operating in the Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean”.
The remarks came amid Russia’s efforts to further update its Northern Fleet by deploying advanced Yasen-M class submarines following the vessels’ sea tests in 2019.
Responding to NATO’s accusations about the Russian submarines’ increasing activities in the Atlantic, Russia’s Defence Ministry has repeatedly underlined that any movement of its warships at sea is carried out in line with international regulations.