Six Royal Navy ships and 2,000 personnel join largest Arctic exercise for 30 years in show of strength to Putin

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced Exercise Cold Response will demonstrate "how a multinational force would defend Europe's northern flank"

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Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales has joined allied forces for Exercise Cold Response off the shores of Norway.

The exercise, which takes place every other year, will see HMS Prince of Wales sail north to the Arctic to join a task force which will see 30,000 troops from 27 nations operate together.

The Ministry of Defence said "25 ships from 11 nations gathered close to Norway at the start of the training, including six Royal Navy ships and more than 2,000 UK military personnel".

It will be the largest Arctic exercise for 30 years.

Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales. Picture date: Friday February 4, 2022.
Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales. Picture date: Friday February 4, 2022.
HMS Prince of Wales sails at the head of the task force
HMS Prince of Wales sails at the head of the task force

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "The Arctic is becoming an area of increasing military competition and the security of the region is directly linked to our national security.

"Exercise Cold Response is a demonstration of NATO’s ability to both operate and compete in one of the harshest environments in the world and is demonstration of how a multinational force would defend Europe’s northern flank."

This comes as Mr Wallace said weapons from Western nations are still reaching Ukrainian forces.

He told reporters at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels: “We are continuing to deliver weapons into Ukraine from many different directions and it is getting to the front line.”

Asked about Poland’s suggestion of a NATO peace mission to Ukraine, Mr Wallace said: “I think I’ll look at the details first before I make any decisions about what happens.

“But it is absolutely the case that we have to continue to show – in action – our support to Ukraine and its freedoms and not just talk.”

He added: “Coming here today, we should also remind ourselves how lucky we are. There is Ukraine, a country currently effectively under siege by an aggressive Russian armed forces – and that’s why they wanted to join this alliance.

“I think we have to see what more we can do to give them that support.”