MOSCOW, January 23 (RIA Novosti) – Protecting Russia from potential missile attacks launched from the Arctic should be a key goal of increased Russian military presence in the region, a Russian expert on geopolitics said Thursday.
According to Konstantin Sivkov, first vice president of the Russian National Geopolitical Academy, massive strikes of high-precision cruise missiles against Russia would be effective only if they were delivered from launchers deployed in the Arctic.
He explained that [cruise] missiles launched from other regions would be capable of destroying targets in only certain parts of Russia due to their limited flying range.
“Therefore, the creation of a low-altitude radar shield in the Arctic, covering the most probable missile approaches from the northwest, is a key task,” Sivkov said at a “round table” discussion meeting in RIA Novosti.
Sivkov, who is a retired officer of the Russian military’s General Staff, also stressed the importance of strengthening the Russian naval and air contingents in the Arctic to ensure the protection of the country’s borders in the region.
“At present, the strength of [Russia’s] Northern Fleet is not sufficient to accomplish even basic tasks to ensure national security in this vast region,” Sivkov said.
He added that a strong contingent of fighter aircraft should be deployed there “to intercept and destroy incoming missiles during their approach” to the Russian border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military in December to boost its presence in the Arctic and complete the development of military infrastructure in the region in 2014.
The military has already started the deployment of aerospace defense units in the Arctic and construction of an early missile warning radar in the country’s extreme north, according to the commander of the Aerospace Defense Forces, Maj. Gen. Alexander Golovko.
The Defense Ministry has also announced plans to reopen airfields and ports on the New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago, as well as at least seven airfields on the continental part of the Arctic Circle that were mothballed in 1993.
Arctic territories, believed to hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves, have increasingly been at the center of disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice.
Russia has made claims on several Arctic shelf areas and is planning to defend its bid at the United Nations.