Ukraine updates: Russia begins military drills in the Arctic

Soldiers, ships and planes are taking part in the military exercise in Russia's icy northern sea

Ukraine updates: Russia begins military drills in the Arctic
Ukraine updates: Russia begins military drills in the Arctic


Russian forces have kicked off large-scale military maneuvers in the Arctic Sea, the Northern Fleet of Russia's Navy announced late on Monday.

The drills include some 1,800 soldiers, up to 15 ships and 40 aircraft. According to the Northern Fleet, the exercises aim to protect "the security of Russia's merchant marine and sea lanes such as the Northeast Passage."

It will test coordination between air, land and sea forces.

NATO forces have also carried out drills in the Arctic region following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

The Northeast Passage is a sea lane that runs along Russia's northern icy coastline, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. Due to climate change, the passage has become more accessible and its economic and strategic importance has increased.

Here are some of the other notable developments concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Tuesday, April 11:

Russia plans online conscription to boost mobilization

New legislation that will be discussed in the Russian parliament on Tuesday is aiming to streamline conscription by enabling the delivery of call-up papers via an online portal.

Currently, conscripts must be handed conscription papers in person by the local military enlistment officer or via an employer.

The new proposed system would mean that a traditional letter, as well as an online notification, would suffice.

Those who then fail to show up for duty will be barred from leaving the country.

"The summons is considered received from the moment it is placed in the personal account of a person liable for military service," Andrei Kartapolov, chairman of the Russian parliament's defense committee, said.

Following Russia's failure to achieve a quick victory in Ukraine last year, over 300,000 former soldiers and ex-conscripts were called to join Russia's "special military operation."

But its chaotic rollout, which saw men who were ineligible due to age or health also being called up, led the Kremlin to admit it had made a "mistake" and to begin digitizing its military records.

Switzerland rejects criticism over 'negligence' in enforcing sanctions against Russia

A Swiss government official has defended the country's handling of Russian assets following criticism from the US and other G7 nations who said the international banking hub could do more.

Helene Budliger Artieda, director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) government department, told the Swiss newspaper the Neue Zürcher Zeitung that she had been surprised by the criticism.

Switzerland has matched the EU's sanctions on Russia despite not being part of the bloc. It has frozen some 7.5 billion Swiss francs ($8.3 billion, €7.6 billion) in assets belonging to individuals on the sanctions lists.

That amount is "a good third" of the €21.5 billion in assets frozen across the EU, Artieda said.

The US ambassador to Switzerland, Scott Miller, last month said that a further 50 to 100 billion Swiss francs could be frozen. G7 nations also wrote a letter asking the country to do more.

"When we meet on a technical level with the EU, Britain and the United States, we never hear this kind of criticism. There are obviously misunderstandings," Budliger Artieda told the newspaper.

"The figure of 50 to 100 billion francs was initially circulated as a possible estimate of Russian funds under management," though it was not an estimate produced by Switzerland, she said. "But not all Russians are subject to sanctions — only a small minority."

Russia looking to restore airborne forces, UK intelligence says

The UK's Ministry of Defence reported in its daily intelligence update on Tuesday that Russia's airborne forces (VDV) have been supplied with TOS-1A thermobaric multiple-launch rocket systems.

Although the transfer of these systems had already been reported by Russian media earlier in April, the ministry pointed to the fact that the "highly destructive TOS-1A, which Russia designates as a 'heavy flamethrower' … has not previously been formally associated with the VDV."

"The transfer likely indicates a future role for the VDV in offensive operations in Ukraine," the ministry said in its update. "It is likely part of efforts to reconstitute the VDV after it suffered heavy casualties in the first nine months of the war."

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