Tag: Arctic

Lavrov attacks Norway, says relations on Svalbard should be better

Foreign ministers’ meeting in Arkhangelsk. Photo: Atle Staalesen

The Russian foreign minister accuses Norway of encroaching on Russian rights on the Arctic archipelago.

The setting was Barents Cooperation and cross-border interaction, but it was Arctic militarization and Norwegian policy at Svalbard which became the key issues in today’s press conference following the Barents Euro-Arctic Council meeting.

In what appeared as a well-prepared answer, the Russian foreign minister lashed out against his Norwegian counterpart.

Relations in Spitsbergen could clearly have been much more constructive, he underlined. Russian legitimate rights in the area are periodically being restricted, he added.

“The Russian MFA last year submitted two diplomatic notes about Svalbard to the Norwegian side, but no response has been made,” Lavrov complained.

“We have on several occasions called for dialogue over these issues, but the Norwegians do not respond. I believe this does not correspond with good neighbourly relations”, he underlined.

The statements come after newspaper Kommersant recently published a report shedding light on strategic document from the Russian Ministry of Defense allegedly highlighting the archipelago as a potential conflict area.

Barents foreign ministers. Photo: Atle Staalesen

Disagreement over Svalbard Treaty

According to Lavrov, Norway is illegitimately restricting Russian company Arktikugol and its flying with helicopters in the archipelago, and also the development of Russian research and tourism activities in the area.

He also complained about the local Norwegian tax regime, which reportedly does not allow the local Russians to spend collected taxes for their own purposes in Barentsburg, the Russian-dominated local settlement.

“We are talking about very concrete issues, about Russians in the area engaging in activities permitted by the Svalbard Treaty.”

The treaty from 1920 gives Norway full sovereignty over the archipelago, but signatory states are allowed to engage in economic activities. The Russians have since the early 1930s operated coal mines in the area and is currently in the process of building up local research and tourism facilities.

Norwegian sovereignty

“Norway is complying to every comma in the Svalbard Treaty,” Børge Brende responded. “This is a part of Norway and that should not be questioned,” he underlined.

Geographical location of Svalbard (dark green)

“But we are taking great effort to make Svalbard the best managed Arctic archipelago in the world, and that concerns also environment.”

Beyond that, the Norwegian foreign minister said he was not much interested in using the press conference to discuss Svalbard. The issue is highly sensitive. And it was Brende’s last day as foreign minister. After four years in the post, he now leaves Norway to become president in the World Economic Forum

Enhanced military presence in Finnmark

The Russian critical words against Norway did not stop with Svalbard. According to the Russian foreign minister, there are worries in Moscow also about Norway’s stronger military emphasis on Finnmark, the country’s northernmost region.

“Yes, we are of course concerned about the buildup of troops and the stronger role of Nato in the region,” Lavrov said.

“We see this as part of a carefully planned strategy directed against Russia.”

“Considering the fact that we are neighbours, we would have expected otherwise,” he underlined.

However, at the same time, earlier the same day, Lavrov praise the regional government of Finnmark for its friendly and cooperative approach to neighbouring Russia. Finnmark this week took over the chair of the Barents Regional Council, a cooperation body including the northern territories of Norway, Russia, Finland and Sweden.


Foreign Ministers line up for Barents talks in Arkhangelsk

Foreign Ministers of Finland, Sweden and Norway. From left Timo Soini, Margot Wallström and Børge Brende. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov invites for Barents Council meeting where cross-border, low tension cooperation tops the agenda.

“High north – Low tension” is the slogan for Norway’s Børge Brende when he on Wednesday travels to Arkhangelsk for the 16th Barents Foreign Minister’s Session. The tour, Brende’s third to Russia this year, will also be the last before he leaves office.

The Barents cooperation, involving the northernmost regions of Russia, Sweden, Finland and Norway was initiated in 1993, aimed at tearing down barriers that hampered contact and economic ties after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Formally, the Barents Council Session takes place Thursday morning, but Russia’s Foreign Minister has already announced he will have bi-lateral meetings with the three Nordic Foreign Ministers starting with a dinner on Wednesday.

“Wider Arctic cooperation”

Lavrov’s spokeswomen Maria Zakharov told reporters at the weekly briefing in Moscow last Friday that development of cross-border economic ties, the forest sector, health, rights of indigenous peoples, education, youth exchange and joint responses to emergency situations are topics for discussions.

Russia has chaired the Barents Council for the last two years and will now hand over the chairmanship to Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström for the period 2017-2019.

Next year, the Barents cooperation marks its 25th anniversary.

Finland’s Foreign Minister, Timo Soini, stresses in a press release before travelling to Arkhangelsk that the Barents cooperation “is part of a wider Arctic cooperation.” Soini is currently the chair of the Arctic Council.

Arctic Exclusive Economic Zones

Tematic working groups

Although the foreign ministers meet every second year, the Barents cooperation on the daily basis includes a wide-range of working groups, from transport, tourism and economic cooperation to environment, health and indigenous peoples. The groups include experts from all the four Barents countries. In total, there are 14 such working groups with members from regional and state levels.

An international Barents Secretariat coordinates the work with employees from all four member countries.

Arkhangelsk Oblast regional government-building is the venue for the Barents Council Session. Photo: Thomas Nilsen


Rosneft discovers more than 80 million tons of oil in new offshore Arctic well

Drilling along coast of Laptev Sea. Photo: Rosneft.ru

The oil in the Tsentralno-Olginskaya-1 field is of high quality, light and low in sulphur, the company says.

It is the first ever well drilled in the Laptev Sea and drilling results show significant resources. According to Rosneft, the Tsentralno-Olginskaya-1 holds at least 80 million tons of oil.

It is the Russian oil company’s only offshore well drilled this year. The operation is conducted from the shore of the Khara-Tumus peninsula, a part of the Gulf of Khatanga, where Rosneft over the last year has developed a research and exploitation base.

The well was spud in early April this year and Rosneft leader Igor Sechin had President Vladimir Putin on the line directly from the Kremlin in connection with the event.

It is the first ever well drilled in the Laptev Sea and drilling results show significant resources. According to Rosneft, the Tsentralno-Olginskaya-1 holds at least 80 million tons of oil.

Rosneft base on Laptev Sea coast

It is the Russian oil company’s only offshore well drilled this year. The operation is conducted from the shore of the Khara-Tumus peninsula, a part of the Gulf of Khatanga, where Rosneft over the last year has developed a research and exploitation base.

The well was spud in early April this year and Rosneft leader Igor Sechin had President Vladimir Putin on the line directly from the Kremlin in connection with the event.

The Gulf of Khatanga, Laptev Sea

The Gulf of Khatanga is among the least accessible places in the Russian Arctic. Located east of the Taymyr Peninsula by the ice-covered Laptev Sea, the license area is open for regular shipping only two months in the year. The nearest settlement is Khatanga, a town with a population of about 2,500 located about 350 km to the southwest.

Rosneft says it pins high hopes to the development of the Laptev Sea which it believes could hold as much as 9,5 billion tons of geological reserves.

In a meeting in the Kremlin in June, Rosneft leader Sechin brought with him a drill core sample from the Tsentralno-Olginskaya-1.

“We can inform you, Vladimir Vladimirovich, that we, based on preliminary analysis, are about to open a very serious field”, Sechin said as he handed the President the core sample.


Slowly but surely, China is carving a foothold through the Arctic

Chinese icebreaker Xue Long – ‘Snow Dragon’

Polar research vessel’s journey along Northwest Passage could pave the way for commercial development in the resource-rich region.

China has made progress on its ambition to establish a foothold in the Arctic with the first voyage by its research icebreaker through the frozen waters of the Northwest Passage.

Will the Arctic be the next stop on China’s new Silk Road?

Experts said the latest voyage could pave the way for commercial development in the resource-rich northernmost region of the world.

“Polar regions, together with the oceans, the internet and space exploration, have become new but strategic areas where China is seeking to develop in the future,” Wang Chuanxing, a polar researcher at Tongji University in Shanghai, said.

“This voyage is just one of [China’s] practical moves in the Arctic though it remains at a very early stage in terms of commercial development.

”The State Oceanic Administration, which oversees China’s polar programmes, said the expedition helped it “acquire navigation techniques and experience in the complicated and frozen environment of the Arctic … and obtain first-hand information on its shipping routes”.

China has made progress on its ambition to establish a foothold in the Arctic with the first voyage by its research icebreaker through the frozen waters of the Northwest Passage.

It was China’s eighth scientific expedition to the Arctic and came after President Xi Jinping reiterated in Moscow in July that China wanted to work with Russia to develop an “Ice Silk Road” along the Northern Sea Route to be a “new growth driver” of cooperation between the countries.

China has stepped up its engagement in the mineral-rich Arctic in recent years, becoming one of only six nations with observer status on the Arctic Council in 2013 – which gives Beijing input on governance of the region.

The Arctic Circle is also part of Beijing’s ambitious belt and road trade and infrastructure initiative spanning Asia, Africa and Europe.

Meanwhile, in its first white paper on Antarctica, released in May, it pledged to further expand its presence in the largely uninhabited continent, including building its fifth research station there.

It vowed to “elevate Antarctic infrastructure and comprehensive support ­capabilities” and boost “scientific investigation and research capability”.

But it has yet to release a clear policy on its plans for the Arctic region, which has some nations worried.

“China is now seeking resources from all around the world – and Chinese investment is almost everywhere – but we are still waiting to see a detailed policy from China … then we [will] be more clear about what China wants to do in the Arctic,” a diplomat from an Arctic nation told the South China Morning Post on condition of anonymity.

Research team member Shi Xingan greets his son in Shanghai. Xue Long’s latest voyage covered more than 20,000 nautical miles and lasted 83 days. Photo: Xinhua

Speculation about China’s ambitions in the Arctic region is mounting. The world’s second largest economy has been on the hunt to secure enough energy resources to meet its growing demand – and the Arctic has 30 per cent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13 per cent of its undiscovered oil reserves.

And as rising temperatures result in sea ice melting across the Arctic, there are also new opportunities for ships to travel through previously inaccessible, resource-rich areas.

An Arctic trade route would also be more convenient for China. The shortest and most common shipping route from Asia to Europe goes through the Strait of Malacca and the Suez Canal and takes 35 days, while a route through the Arctic would take just 22 days.

Russia remains China’s biggest partner in the Arctic. China’s state-owned Silk Road Fund and China National Petroleum both hold stakes in Arctic gas project Yamal LNG – in partnership with Russia’s Novatek and France’s Total – while a proposed deep-water port near Arkhangelsk, on Russia’s White Sea, has been on Beijing and Moscow’s agenda.

“China is very aware that Russia holds the keys to much of Beijing’s Arctic interests, including in regards to current and future shipping, so there is great interest between the two governments in cooperating further in Arctic economic development,” said Marc Lanteigne, an expert in China, East Asia and polar regions at Massey University in New Zealand.

“China is interested in helping the Putin government develop various projects, including port and transport infrastructure, in both Siberia and the Russian Far East.”

Cheng Baozhi, an associate researcher at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said the Arctic was an area of untapped potential for China.

“Russia is the largest Arctic nation in the world and there’s no way to bypass it in any Arctic-related activity,” Cheng said. “The two nations realise there is huge potential for them to cooperate, so why not exploit that potential?”

But China’s path through the Arctic will not be easy – aside from the technical and environmental challenges, it will also face political uncertainties and potential cultural conflicts in its commercial development plans.

MV Xue Long’s Russian Kamov Ka-32 rescue helicopter. PHOTO / Jessica Fitzpatrick

“Chinese companies need to carefully study the possible risks before they set foot in the Arctic – otherwise they could end up involved in disputes,” Wang from Tongji University said.

There was the possibility of conflict with cultural and environmental agencies, local governments and even the region’s aboriginal peoples, he said.

In the meantime, China has started building its second icebreaker, the Xue Long II, which is expected to set sail in 2019. Also, state-owned cargo shipping giant Cosco is planning to send six vessels along the Northern Sea Route to transport items including equipment, steel and pulp, Xinhua reported.


Kommersant: Russia lists Norway’s Svalbard policy as potential risk of war

Details from a Defense Ministry report show that Moscow is not happy with Norway’s attempt to establish absolute national jurisdiction over Svalbard and its shelf.

It is the newspaper Kommersant that refers to the report after speaking to several sources in the Russian Defense Ministry. The report summarizes Russia’s 2016 national security assessment in the field of maritime activities.

The military part of the report describes existing foreign policy problems, like U.S. and their allies attempt to limit Russia’s geopolitical influence. Listing reasons for potential military conflicts with NATO, the report singles out a separate threat from Norway, because of the country’s plans for unilateral revision of international agreements.

The report stresses that Norwegian authorities are seeking to establish absolute national jurisdiction over the Spitsbergen [Svalbard] archipelago and the adjacent 200 nautical miles maritime boundary around, Kommersant writes.

Map of mainland Norway and the Svalbard archipelago, directly north in the Arctic Ocean. photo credit: Svalbard map

The report gets wide coverage also in other Russian media on Tuesday.

In addition to Svalbard, the report lists the Kuril islands and the Azov- and Black Sea region around Crimea as potential war areas for the navy.

High North – Low Tension

Norway argues the Arctic is an area of cooperation rather than conflict.

A long-standing Norwegian slogan is «High North – Low Tension». Speaking at the Arctic Frontiers conference in January, Foreign Minister Børge Brende told the audience that Law of the Sea and International Law «is the Constitution of the Arctic.

A dispute between Norway and other signature countries to the Svalbard Treaty, however, is whether the Treaty applies to the shelf around Svalbard or if Svalbard does not have its own shelf but being a part of mainland Norway’s continental shelf.

Rogozin’s surprise visit

Russia has several times the last few years stressed its disagreement with Oslo over Svalbard. In 2015, Norway’s Foreign Ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador to Oslo over Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s surprise visit to Longyearbyen airport and the Russian settlement Barentsburg. Rogozin is on Norway and the European Union’s list of sanctioned people not allowed to enter the territory of Norway due to their active participation in the annexation of Crimea.

Rogozin’s visit to Svalbard was first reported by the Barents Observer. 

Russia’s Defense Ministry report was late in September sent out to members of Government’s Maritime Board led by Dmitry Rogozin, Kommersant writes on Wednesday.

NATO politicians

This spring, Russia’s Foreign Ministry also expressed strong protest when a delegation from NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly visited Longyearbyen to learn more about climate changes affect on the Arctic. «Unprecedented military preparations, Moscow said in a statement calling the visit «a provocation.

The NATO meeting triggered widespread coverage in Russian media.

Analysing the meeting, RIA Novosti commentator Aleksandr Khrolenko points to historic Russian population on Svalbard.  “These islands were populated by Russian Pomor settlers,” he writes in a text that in-between the lines questions Norway’s historic rights. Since the Russian settlers, according to a 1569 map, were on the archipelago, it “has been controlled by the Netherlands, the UK, Denmark, Sweden and finally, independent Norway.”

RIA Novosti is a news agency operating under the purview of the Russian Ministry of Communications and Mass Media.  Under a presidential decree signed by Putin in December 2013, the news agency became a part of Rossiya Segodnya. According to the decree, the mandate of Rossiya Segodnya is to “Provide information on Russian state policy and Russian life and society for audiences abroad.”

Sputnik News, another arm of Rossiya Segodnya, published an English version of the statements questioning Norway’s historic rights over Svalbard.

Frigate made port call

Last month, the Norwegian navy frigate made port call to Longyearbyen. Norway does not have any military installations on Svalbard, but in recent years, a navy vessel shows presence in Svalbard waters once a year.

HNoMS Helge Ingstad at Svalbard in September 2017. Photo Royal Norwegian Navy

Chechen special forces

In April 2016, Chechen special forces instructors landed at Longyearbyen airport on their way to Russia’s Barneo ice-base in the high Arctic.

Such use of Svalbard as part of preparation to military exercises could be in conflict with the Svalbard Treaty. Article 9 prohibits naval bases and fortifications and also the use of Svalbard for war-like purposes. The Norwegian Government in its White paper on Svalbard explains that “All foreign military activity in Svalbard is prohibited and would entail a gross infringement of sovereignty.”

Chechen special forces instructors landed on Svalbard | The Independent Barents Observer.

“Unless they involve innocent passage through territorial waters, foreign military and civilian government vessels wishing to enter Norwegian territorial waters around Svalbard must apply well in advance for diplomatic clearance. The same applies to calls at ports in Svalbard and landings at airports. […] The Norwegian authorities follow very restrictive practice with regard to granting such clearance.”

Geir Ulfstein, Law Professor at the Department of Public and International Law at the University of Oslo told the Barents Observer after the Chechen special forces’ visit that an interesting question concerning the kind of use of Svalbard that we now are witnessing, is how far Article 9 of the Treaty reaches when it comes to prohibition of the use of Svalbard ‘for war-like purposes’. “But in this connection it is central that Norway has the sovereignty over Svalbard. Norway can prohibit paratroopers on Svalbard in the same way as on the mainland, unless other countries can claim concrete rights as a consequence of the Svalbard Treaty. It is hard to see how Russia could find any such rights in the Treaty,” Ulfstein said.

Controversies over oil

In March 2015, Russia’s Embassy to Norway wrote a sharp diplomatic note to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, stating that the opening of three blocks for oil drilling in the Barents Sea near Svalbard is in defiance with the Svalbard Treaty, the newspaper VG reported.

Russia believes the blocks that where announced in the 23rd licensing round belong to the Svalbard continental shelf and that production of oil and gas there should be regulated by the Svalbard Treaty.

In the Svalbard Treaty Norway and 39 other countries have the same rights to operate in the archipelago, provided that they comply with Norwegian law.

The main difference between Norwegian and Russian views on the areas around Svalbard, is that while Russian claims that Svalbard has a shelf of its own that should be covered by the Svalbard Treaty, Norway argues that the continental shelf is a part of mainland Norway’s continental shelf and should be governed by the 1958 Continental Shelf Convention.



Russia’s advanced icebreaker Ilya Muromets begins state trials in Baltic Sea

The Ilya Muromets, a Project 21180 diesel-electric icebreaker, leaves the Admiralteyskie Verfi shipyard to undergo final tests in the Gulf of Finland. Peter Kovalev/TASS

ST. PETERSBURG, October 5. /TASS/.

The advanced icebreaker Ilya Muromets built for the Russian Navy has started state trials at practice ranges in the Baltic Sea, TASS reports from the Admiralty Shipyard’s wharf.

Before the launch of the state trials, the icebreaker was inspected by Russian Navy Deputy Commander-in-Chief Alexander Fedotenkov.

“The Navy has not accepted icebreakers into its structure for over 40 years already and, therefore, the construction of the Ilya Muromets icebreaker was a historic event for us. We need the icebreaker very much, considering that Russia has returned to the Arctic and combat ships constantly carry out voyages to Arctic regions. With the arrival of the icebreaker for the Northern Fleet, the grouping in Arctic regions will be self-sufficient,” Fedotenkov said.

The construction of the icebreaker at the Admiralty Shipyard proceeded strictly according to schedule, he noted.

“We laid down the icebreaker in 2015 and floated it out in 2016 and now we are starting its state trials,” the Russian Navy deputy commander-in-chief said.

The state trials of the Ilya Muromets icebreaker will last 27 days, the Navy’s main headquarters reported.

The trials will check all the icebreaker’s performance characteristics and systems, specifically, the operation of its radio navigation and other radio technical equipment, load-lifting mechanisms, life support systems, propulsion units and anchoring gear.

“In the first ten-day period of November, the icebreaker will perform its passage to the Northern Fleet. The Russian Navy flag will be hoisted on the icebreaker until the end of November,” the Navy’s main headquarters said.

The icebreaker is under construction at the Admiralty Shipyard at the slipway that was once used to build the world’s first ever nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin.

The Ilya Muromets will displace 6,000 tonnes. It incorporates new principles of electric propulsion and a modern power unit. The icebreaker is expected to have a crew of 32, a sea endurance of 60 days and a cruising range of 12,000 miles. The icebreaker is capable of breaking an ice field of up to 80 cm thick.





Russian Aerospace Force intercept foreign reconnaissance aircraft 9 times this week

Donat Sorokin/TASS

Fighters of the Russian Aerospace Force over past week nine times took off to intercept foreign reconnaissance aircraft – fewer than a week earlier, the Krasnaya Zverzda (Red Star) newspaper reported on Friday.

A week earlier, the defense authority reported the aircraft were scrambled 14 times to intercept foreign aircraft.

The Defense Ministry’s infographics, published in the newspaper on Friday, shows 58 foreign aircraft conducted air reconnaissance, where 46 were at the western strategic direction, seven – at the Arctic, four – at the eastern and one – at the southern direction.


Video: Russia launches second nuclear-powered icebreaker ‘Sibir’

Russia launches second nuclear-powered icebreaker Sibir

Russian shipbuilder Baltic Shipyard has launched the second of three Project 22220, nuclear-powered icebreakers at its shipyard in St. Petersburg.

Sibir, as the second icebreaker in the class is named, was launched on September 22 into the River Neva in presence of Russian president Vladimir Putin and a number of other government and shipyard officials.

Together with sister ship Arktika, the Sibir is dubbed the “world’s largest and most powerful” icebreaker.

The Sibir was launched 16 months after it started construction in May 2015. The lead ship, Arktika, was launched in June 2016 and is expected to be commissioned in June 2019.

Designed by Iceberg Central Design Bureau in 2009, the 173-meter long icebreakers will be capable of breaking ice up to 2.8 meters thick.

The vessels are being built for Rosatomflot for operation in Arctic waters and in the waters of the mouth of the Yenisei river and the Gulf of Ob.


Russian Northern Fleet completes drills in Arctic

The Russian Defense Ministry

The Northern Fleet has completed a series of scheduled exercises in the Arctic on Friday, the fleet’s press service reported.

“Thirteen launches of seaborne and surface winged missiles have been carried out during live firing episodes in the Barents Sea, White Sea and the Laptev Sea, including from two nuclear underwater missile cruisers,” the fleet’s press service said.

The crews of the ships that took part in the exercises for all-arms forces also carried out dozens of gun and missile-firing exercises. The drill episodes were carried out at battle training ranges in the Barents, White and Laptev Seas and near the New Siberian Islands.

The exercises involved about 50 warships and supply vessels, including the Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) heavy nuclear-powered guided-missile cruise, Dmitry Donksoy heavy strategic ballistic missile submarine, more than 30 aircraft and nuclear and diesel submarines.

Russian Navy Battlecruiser Pyotr Veliky
They are passing to their permanent bases now. They will hammer out help to ships and vessels in distress on their way, and some ships and supply vessels will train to replenish supplies at sea.



RCAF to help restore Lancaster bomber in preparation for its 100th anniversary

Lancaster bomber KB882

Ownership of Lancaster bomber KB882 was transferred Wednesday from the City of Edmundston to the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton, Ont. Now the Royal Canadian Air Force will begin dismantling the plane and prepare it for transportation to the museum.

KB882 symbolizes the more than 50,000 Canadians who served in Bomber Command during the Second World War and the nearly 10,000 who lost their lives, according to the RCAF.

In addition, the aircraft represents the roles that were also conducted by Lancasters during the postwar period; those include contribution to the RCAF’s Arctic patrol activities and aerial photographic work as Canada charted its wilderness.

“Lancaster KB882 tangibly represents the RCAF’s transition from war to peacetime activities,” Lieutenant-General Mike Hood, Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force, said in a statement.As the RCAF looks towards its 100th anniversary in 2024, Lancaster KB882 will serve as a valuable anchor for our commemorative activities, and a beacon for the preservation of RCAF and Canadian history and heritage.”

A combined team from the RCAF’s Aerospace and Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron (ATESS) and the National Air Force Museum of Canada are now dismantling KB882.

The work is expected to take three to four weeks, and it is anticipated that the RCAF will transport KB882 to Trenton by the end of October, according to the RCAF. This will be the third time that KB882 will be worked on by ATESS (and its predecessor 6 Repair Depot). The aircraft passed through their hands in 1954 and 1964.

When the aircraft arrives in Trenton, it will be restored to her post-war Mark 10 AR (area reconnaissance) configuration with the aid of donations and volunteer efforts. Restoration is expected to take five to seven years.

When KB882 is on display for public viewing, the National Air Force Museum of Canada will be the only museum in the world to have in its collection a fully restored Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster, the RCAF noted.

Built by Victory Aircraft Ltd. in Malton, Ont., KB882 flew several combat missions over Europe before returning to Canada in 1945. In 1952, the aircraft underwent a major overhaul and conversion to area reconnaissance. Assigned to the photo-reconnaissance role with 408 Squadron at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, in Ottawa, in 1953, KB882 proved instrumental in the mapping and charting of Canada’s Arctic.

The aircraft was also used as an electronic and photographic intelligence gathering platform during the Cold War.

Shortly after retirement in 1964, KB882 was sold to the City of Edmundston where it has been displayed at the Edmundston Airport.


Watch Russia’s Battlecruiser Launch a Granit “Shipwreck” Anti-Ship Missile

Kirov-class battlecruiser Pyotr Veliky

The Kirov-class battlecruiser is a class of nuclear-powered warship of the Russian Navy, the largest and heaviest surface combatant warships (i.e. not an aircraft carrier or amphibious assault ship) in operation in the world (28,000 tons fully loaded).

Among modern warships, they are second in size only to large aircraft carriers, and of similar size to a World War I era battleship. The official designation of the ship-type is “heavy nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser” (Russian: тяжёлый атомный ракетный крейсер). The ships are often referred to as battlecruisers by western defense commentators due to their size and general appearance.

Originally built for the Soviet Navy, the class is named for the first of a series of four ships to be constructed, Kirov, which was renamed Admiral Ushakov in 1992. Original plans called for the construction of five ships, however the last was cancelled. In Russia this class of ship is usually referred to by the designation Project 1144 Orlan (sea eagle).

Only the Pyotr Veliky is currently operational. Admiral Nakhimov is projected to re-enter the Russian Navy in 2018.

Russia planned to reactivate the remaining two vessels by 2020, but recent reporting suggests that the reactors in Admiral Ushakov and Admiral Lazarev are in a poor condition, and these ships cannot be safely reactivated.

The appearance of the Kirov class played a key role in the recommissioning of the Iowa-class battleships by the United States Navy in the 1980s.

This week, the Pyotr Veliky has been involved in battle-drills in the Arctic Ocean.

The Russian Ministry of Defense released a video of the Granit missile launch:

The SS-N-19 with its booster attached is about the size and weight of a combat loaded MiG-21 and carries a 1,650 high explosive charge or a 500kt thermonuclear warhead.

In the case of the latter, a near miss is still a certain kill, although it’s very unlikely that the Russians still deploy these missiles loaded with nuclear warheads.

Russian crew handles a massive P700/SS-N-19

The Russian Navy initially planned to return both Admiral Ushakov and Admiral Lazarev to service after several years of disuse. It was later indicated that the condition of the reactor cores of both ships was such that it would prove difficult, expensive and potentially dangerous to remove the spent nuclear fuel and repair the cores.

As a consequence, it is likely that both ships will be scrapped. The modernization of Admiral Ushakov seems unlikely due to an alleged nuclear incident which may have left one of its reactors damaged with scrapping to start in 2016 or later.

Other sources disagree, stating that all four ships will be modernized and returned to service. In 2014 some maintenance work was performed on Admiral Lazarev (the only cruiser located in the Pacific). Skepticism was expressed regarding the ability of Sevmash shipyard to simultaneously modernize two Kirov-class battlecruisers.

Modernization of Admiral Nakhimov is ongoing (to be completed by 2018) with the modernization of Pyotr Velikiy to last from 2018 until 2021.