This post has been updated to correct the location of the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet.
Two Russian warships are operating near the international BALTOPs naval exercise in the Baltic Sea, according to photos from ship spotters.
A pair of Russian Navy Karakurt-class corvettes were spotted off the coast of Sweden near Stockholm one day after NATO and allied ships departed for the at-sea portion of the BALTOPS drills.
The Russian Navy’s Baltic Sea Fleet is split between Saint Petersburg and the exclave of Kaliningrad. The Baltic Sea connects the Saint Petersburg portion of Russia’s fleet to Kaliningrad, which borders Lithuania and Poland.
On Sunday, USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and other ships left Stockholm for the start of the exercise. Kearsarge, USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44), and Rota, Spain-based guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG-78) are participating in BALTOPS for the United States.
Russian ships have previously monitored U.S. ships during BALTOPS, including in 2019, when Russia monitored USS Gravely (DDG-107) during both BALTOPS and other NATO exercises, USNI News previously reported.
Sweden is hosting this year’s BALTOPS, which includes participation from 16 countries and more than 45 vessels, NATO said in a news release last month.
“Unique to BALTOPS 22 is Sweden’s role in hosting the exercise, coincidentally occurring during their Navy’s 500th anniversary. BALTOPS 22 will feature more robust medical response scenarios, specifically personnel recovery training involving a submarine,” according to NATO.
“Additionally new to this year’s iteration is the incorporation of a coordinated in-scenario secular chaplaincy response and religious services comprising of five participating nation chaplains. BALTOPS 22 builds from the BALTOPS 2021 scenario story lines and continues the incorporation of the space domain in coordination with the NATO Space Center.”
The annual exercise in the Baltic comes as both Sweden and Finland continue the NATO application member process. The two countries formally applied for NATO membership last month, amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“In past iterations of BALTOPS we’ve talked about meeting the challenges of tomorrow,” Vice Adm. Gene Black, the commander of U.S. 6th Fleet, said in a news release.
“Those challenges are upon us – in the here and now. BALTOPS 22 highlights our past investments and shows our collective partnership and capabilities as we recognize the importance of ‘freedom of the seas’ and the vital role the Baltic plays in European prosperity.”
BALTOPs formally started on Sunday and will continue through June 17, according to 6th Fleet. The drills will range from an amphibious exercise to anti-submarine warfare, 6th Fleet said.