As I have previously described here, here and here, Russia is amassing a significant military force in the melting Arctic, and that increasingly high tech military buildup is nearing Alaska. New satellite imagery clearly shows this build-up of Russian military bases and sophisticated hardware on the country’s Arctic coastline. Meanwhile videos highlight Russian training and tests of new Arctic warfare capabilities.
“Russia is amassing unprecedented military might in the Arctic and testing its newest weapons”https://t.co/QUXg7ZAnHv
— Olga Lautman (@OlgaNYC1211) April 5, 2021
According to CNN:
Russia is amassing unprecedented military might in the Arctic and testing its newest weapons in a region freshly ice-free due to the climate emergency, in a bid to secure its northern coast and open up a key shipping route from Asia to Europe.
Key Russian bases in the Arctic include Alexandra Land island, Kotelny Island. Providenya, Murmansk and Wrangel Island. Though these are within Russian territory, military planners are concerned about their possible use to project power farther into the Arctic.
As CNN explains:
The bases are inside Russian territory and part of a legitimate defense of its borders and coastline. US officials have voiced concern, however, that the forces might be used to establish de facto control over areas of the Arctic that are further afield, and soon to be ice-free.
Additionally, Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesman, told CNN:
Russia is refurbishing Soviet-era airfields and radar installations, constructing new ports and search-and-rescue centers, and building up its fleet of nuclear- and conventionally-powered icebreakers.
These icebreakers are opening new sea routes through the Arctic such as when the 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years of Victory) icebreaker moved through the Arctic ice in January this year, in the first transit of the eastern seas in deep winter.
Campbell added that Russia is “also expanding its network of air and coastal defense missile systems, thus strengthening its anti-access and area-denial capabilities over key portions of the Arctic.”
CNN reported that these northern Russian bases include underground storage facilities likely for the Poseidon 2M39 stealth nuclear torpedo and other new high-tech weapons. The Russian hardware also includes bombers and MiG31BM jets, and new radar systems close to the coast of Alaska.
However, notes CNN, “Weapons experts and Western officials have expressed particular concern about one Russian ‘super-weapon,’ the Poseidon 2M39 torpedo.”
This weapon, which is still being tested, and was initially dismissed by western analysts, now appears fearsome indeed. As CNN describes:
This unmanned stealth torpedo is powered by a nuclear reactor and intended by Russian designers to sneak past coastal defenses — like those of the US — on the seafloor.
The device is intended to deliver a warhead of multiple megatons, according to Russian officials, causing radioactive waves that would render swathes of the target coastline uninhabitable for decades.
In November, Christopher A Ford, then assistant secretary of state for International Security and Non-Proliferation, said the Poseidon is designed to “inundate U.S. coastal cities with radioactive tsunamis.”
Satellite images show Russia is amassing unprecedented military might in the Arctic, readying “super weapons” tests and securing a key shipping route. @npwcnn reports. https://t.co/kFu31FSRlS pic.twitter.com/6PVVmhgWbE
— CNN (@CNN) April 5, 2021
Meanwhile as I have written here and here, this Russian Arctic build-up is being somewhat matched by NATO and U.S. troop and equipment movements. U.S. B-1B Lancer bombers are now stationed in Norway for the first time and recently completed missions in the eastern Barents Sea. Plus, U.S. and Canadian forces have increased troop deployments and training in Alaska and beyond.
Additionally, U.S. officials acknowledged last summer that the US Navy’s new Seawolf stealth submarine was patrolling the Arctic region. However, much more needs to be done to counter this growing Arctic menace.