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13 Aug, 2009 09:09

Russian subs become Canada’s wonder of the year

Two Russian nuclear submarines have prompted Canada to a state of alert amid mutual assurances that the subs are harmless. Meanwhile Canada’s massive annual military exercises have commenced.

The two Russian Akula-class submarines that appeared near America’s territorial waters last week haven’t vanished without trace.

According to Canadian media, this week they were spotted not far from Canadian waters.

“The submarines have not done anything threatening. They're in international waters, where they are allowed to be,” a spokesman for the Canadian Defense Minister told AFP.

A similar declaration was made last week by Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, who stated that “long-distance voyages of Russian submarines are normal practice.”

However, Canadian forces still wanted to ensure that their waters are respected, and to know what was going on along Canadian coastlines, so they put an Aurora aircraft on watch.

Both American and Canadian media were quick to recall similar sporadic navy movements that were an essential part of the Cold War.

Western readers were also reminded that the CP-140 Aurora were made back in 1980, almost exclusively to monitor the northwest Atlantic looking for subs. They were rendered useless after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but now are of use again.

“As Minister MacKay and other observers have noted, it is part of a pattern of Russia flexing its muscles in a way that has not been seen in many years,” the Canadian Defense Minister’s spokesman commented.

These new developments come exactly a month after two Russian nuclear subs test-fired two long-range Sineva ballistic missiles near the North Pole.

According to a Russian intelligence source quoted by RIA Novosti, the launch area, covered by ice floes, was heavily patrolled by Russian attack submarines and the Americans were unable to detect the arrival of two strategic submarines before the launch.

“At the same time, U.S. reconnaissance satellites are unable to detect submarines under thick ice floe in the Arctic. The American radars certainly detected the missile launches, but their location took them by surprise,” the source said, adding that both missiles hit the designated targets.

The test launch has caused concern in Canadian defense circles, as has a paratrooper drop at the North Pole planned for spring next year.

Russia plans to commemorate the first-ever airplane drop at the North Pole, conducted by two Russian scientists in May 1949.

It is hardly a coincidence that Canada’s annual Arctic Sovereignty Operation, which used to take two weeks and train forces for environmental accidents and counter-drug operations, now lasts more than three weeks (August 6-28) and features extensive anti-submarine warfare exercises.

Ruben Zarbabyan, RT