Russia’s military buildup on the top of the world
January 22, 2018 -- Russia is expanding its military presence in the Arctic, building new bases and upgrading Soviet-era ones. Moscow has also created a new Arctic Joint Strategic Command and deployed early-warning radars.
The U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia all claim various sections of the Arctic. But it is Moscow that is deploying troops and equipment, and investing more financial resources to the region than any other nation.
Russia claims that the Lomonosov Ridge extends its Siberian continental shelf all the way to the North Pole, and gives it ownership of the oil, gas and rare earth elements under the ice.
Moscow is expanding its fleet of nine nuclear-powered icebreakers with 14 new ships capable of smashing through 2.5 metre-thick sea ice. By comparison, America only has one, the Polar Star, that is operational.
Since 2015, Russia has equipped six new military bases -- including the massive “Arctic Trefoil” -- in the region and deployed two long-range S-400 anti-aircraft regiments to Novaya Zemlya and Tiksi.
Kotelny Island in the New Siberian Island group is home to a permanent Northern Fleet base, while a new airbase in the archipelago will enable year-round deployment of Tu-160 bombers and Tupolev’s PAK-DA stealth bomber in the future.
America’s 63 Arctic DEW Line radar bases, set up to detect a sneak Soviet airstrike over the North Pole, were mostly abandoned in the 1990s. The U.S. now has just one base north of the Arctic Circle, at Thule in Greenland.
Melting sea ice has opened up the Northern Sea Route during the summer months, a future transit lane between Europe and Asia -- all under the control of Russian President Vladimir Putin.