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"Preparations for an unlikely but potentially catastrophic war in Europe"

View of the base on the island of Alexandra Land in the Franz Josef Archipelago. Photo:ENEX 


The World Daily | News Desk           JUNE  3rd   2021


Russia's policy in the Arctic is an integral part of the overall confrontation with the West, experts from the Carnegie Moscow Centre think tank emphasized in the analysis. The Kremlin is strengthening its military presence in the region and intends to implement ambitious economic plans there.


The Russian agency RIA Novosti informed us about the strengthening of the Russian air group in the Arctic in order - as reported - to "stop the expansion of NATO". Currently, not only fighters are stationed in the region, but also multi-role Su-34 bombers, deployed from the Chelyabinsk region. The Ministry of Defence in Moscow reported that bombers made about twenty flights in the Arctic, crews practiced patrolling the Arctic zone, navigating tasks and manoeuvring over the water surface.

According to RIA Nowosti, full exploitation of machines has become possible relatively recently, after the reconstruction of the airport network in the Arctic zone. One of the military pilots explained to journalists that the North Pole is the shortest route from Canada and the US to Russia and that if a conflict suddenly broke out, attacks could come from that side.

Russia is therefore preparing to repel these hypothetical attacks by expanding and strengthening its military infrastructure in the Arctic zone. In recent years, among other things, several runways have been reconstructed and a new Nagurskoye airport in the Alexandra Land in the Franz Josef Land archipelago was built. Planes can land there all year round.


A show of strength for journalists from NATO countries

Russia explains the expansion of its military infrastructure in the Arctic by the need to protect its own borders. It recently organized a demonstration of military force in the presence of a group of Western journalists, including from NATO countries, presenting the Bastion anti-ship defence systems armed with Onyx missiles.

Sarah Rainsford, a Moscow correspondent for the BBC, heard from the commander of the Russian Northern Fleet that Russia's efforts were due to the fact that NATO and US military operations in the region were "definitely provocative, on a scale unprecedented since the Second World War."

The Russian defence ministry showed Western journalists the Arctic Clover base, also built on Alexandra Land. They got there on board the Il-76 transport plane. The flight from Murmansk took over two hours. The base itself, located in a place where temperatures in winter fall even below 50 degrees Celsius and soldiers have to keep polar bears from approaching the facility, are decorated in the colours of the Russian flag. 


Air Force Chief of Staff and Air Defence Igor Churkin told reporters that the Arctic Clover (the name refers to the shape of the object) is the only object in the world located at 80 degrees north latitude. Its area reaches 14,000 square meters. Construction started in 2014 and was completed three years later, before President Vladimir Putin's visit to the site. There are 150 soldiers in the base.

By inviting Western journalists to the Arctic Clover, Russia wanted to send the message that its ambitions for the Arctic are great and growing, and that it has interests in the region that it is ready to defend. They are related to the extraction of oil and gas, as well as the creation of a northern sea route from Asia to Europe, commented the BBC.

In the Arctic zone, Russia has six military bases, as well as a dozen or so airports, anti-aircraft missile systems and ports. The infrastructure works all year round.


Several factors

In the latest analysis on the Russian military presence in the region, Carnegie Centre experts estimate that Russia's current policy in the Arctic is an integral part of the overall confrontation with the West.

"There are several factors underpinning Russia's powerful rhetoric and the clash of weapons in the Arctic: preparation for an unlikely but potentially catastrophic war in Europe, and the need to ensure the security of the nuclear potential concentrated in the Kola Peninsula, also the interests of its powerful bureaucratic elite and business," say the authors of the analysis.

Carnegie Moscow Centre is a think tank and research centre, a non-profit organization that is the regional branch of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

The Arctic region has become a new international hotspot due to its rich natural resources, potential strategic geopolitical status and enormous economic and scientific value, the Reuters agency pointed out. The agency adds that the essence of the Russian strategy towards the Arctic is to assign the region the role of a privileged direction of the national security strategy as well as a strategic and energy base. 


© The World Daily 2021 | News Desk

Source: Ria Novosti, BBC, Reuters