Three Russian submarines surface and break Arctic ice during drills

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Three Russian nuclear ballistic missile submarines have surfaced simultaneously breaking the Arctic ice during drills, reported the commander-in-chief of the Russian fleet at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin via videolink on Friday.

The commander, Nikolai Yevmenov, said the sophisticated manoeuvre was carried out by submarines "for the first time in the history of the Russian Navy". The submarines surfaced within a 300 meters radius and the ice they broke was 1.5 meter deep, the admiral added.

The Kremlin has pushed to beef up defences in the Arctic, which Putin has touted as a vital region for Russian interests as climate change makes it more accessible.

The Russian defence ministry published footage of the submarines emerging from underneath the ice with loud noise. After one of them surfaced, a sailor showed up on top of it and waved at a camera with his hand.

The drill was held near Franz Josef Land Archipelago in the Arctic Ocean and was aimed at testing Russian military hardware in extreme weather conditions.

"The Arctic expedition... has no analogues in the Soviet and the modern history of Russia," Putin said.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by David Gregorio)

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