24 March 2014, 15:19

Russia to beef up its Arctic Force

Russia to beef up its Arctic Force

Russia is planning to build up its special troops in the Arctic to be better prepared for possible security threats from the north.

For more than half a century, the Arctic ice cap has been regarded by the military as a potential theater of war. Nuclear-capable missile-carrying submarines have been secretly patrolling the Arctic seas during and after the “Cold War”. That’s where a key threat comes from, Mikhail Khodaryonok, editor-in-chief of the Military-Industrial Messenger newspaper, told the Voice of Russia.

“As Arctic ice packs melt due to the continuing global warming, more ice-free areas emerge, which might serve as convenient launch spots for ballistic missile attacks. It’s one of the main threats to Russia. A surprise disarming strike involving ballistic nuclear missiles and cruise missiles might potentially come from the Arctic,” he said.

The Defense Ministry is planning to build new warships, including ice-breaking ones, and create a specialized coastal taskforce. The Soviet-era Arctic infrastructure will be restored.

“The Arctic airfields are the first to be restored. These are the Rogachyovo, Alykel, Tiksi, Khatanga, Nadym and many others. Airfields are crucial to ensuring the fast deployment of forces. They can also be used as bases for anti-submarine aviation and flying radars and as command headquarters,” Khodaryonok said.

The Arctic holds an estimated one-quarter of the global energy resources. Some experts predict armed conflicts in the Arctic in the coming decades. Others are skeptical.

“Such statements will always be made. One should take them calmly. There isn’t going to be any war or any armed clashes in the Arctic in the near future. Rather, it’s an information war, which has been gaining momentum lately, a kind of ‘Cold War’,” said Sergei Melkov, Co-chairman of the Association of Military Analysts.

As Russia moves to beef up its Arctic Force, it risks facing new accusations from the West that it militarizes the Arctic. But, as Mikhail Khodaryonok pointed out, that’s what all the Arctic nations have been doing to some extent.

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