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Old 04-05-2019, 10:08 AM
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Exclamation Russia tightens its grip on the Arctic with military base in polar region rich in res

Russia tightens its grip on the Arctic with military base in polar region rich in resources

Russia tightens its grip on the Arctic with military base in polar region rich in resources

- Some 250 troops are stationed on Kotelny Island which is between the Laptev and Eastern Siberian Sea

- The strategic base has been rebuilt after it was abandoned in the 1990s following the fall of the Soviet Union

- Russia has installed some of its most advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ship equipment at the military base

Russia has installed an advanced missile defence system into an arctic base on Kotelny Island in the centre of the region's main shipping route.

Some 250 military personnel are responsible for anti-aircraft and anti-ship weapons at the base which sits between the Laptev Sea and Eastern Siberian sea.

Such is the remote nature of the base, it has enough supplies to remain self-sufficient for 12 months.

12-Photo(s) link:
This Russian solder stands guard near a Pansyr-S1 air defense system, known to NATO as the SA-22 Greyhound. It features both surface to air missiles and a 30mm cannon for close range targets

Commanding officer at the facility Lt Colonel Vladimir Pasechnik said: 'Our task is to monitor the airspace and the northern sea route. We have all we need for our service and comfortable living.'

Russia is not alone in trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, as shrinking polar ice opens fresh opportunities for resource exploration and new shipping lanes. The United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway are jostling for position, as well, and China also has shown an increasing interest in the polar region.

But while U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has seen the Arctic through the lens of security and economic competition with Russia and China, it has yet to demonstrate that the region is a significant priority in its overall foreign policy. The post of special U.S. representative for the Arctic has remained vacant since Trump assumed office.

Russia, however, has made reaffirming its presence in the Arctic a top goal, not the least because the region is believed to hold up to one-quarter of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas. Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited estimates that put the value of Arctic mineral riches at $30 trillion.

The move has alarmed Russia's neighbors, analysts say.

'In Russia, the Northern sea route has been described as a bonanza with lots of potential of economic development,' said Flemming Splidsboel Hansen of the Danish Institute for International Studies. 'And that's why there is a need for military capacity in the area. It is likely meant as defensive, but it is being interpreted by the West as offensive.'

Kristian Soeby Kristensen, a researcher at Copenhagen University in Denmark, said the problem of Russian hegemony in the Arctic was most obvious to Norway.

'Norway is a small country, whose next-door neighbor is mighty Russia, which has placed the bulk of its military capacity right next to them,' Soeby Kristensen said. 'Norway is extraordinarily worried.'

In 2015, Russia submitted to the United Nations a revised bid for vast territories in the Arctic. It claimed 1.2 million square kilometers (over 463,000 square miles) of Arctic sea shelf, extending more than 350 nautical miles (about 650 kilometers) from the shore.

3) Photo links:

Russia abandoned the base following the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, they have been modernising the facilities which are on the region's main shipping route. The Russian military is deploying some of its most modern hardware to the area

The base now completes radar coverage of the entire Russian 14,000 mile Arctic coastline - alerting fighter aircraft if they spot intruders

The Russians have deployed several Bastion K-300P missile launchers to the base. The weapon system, known in the west as the SS-C-5 Stooge fires a solid fuel rocket with a range of up to 200 miles against ships

As part of a multi-pronged effort to stake Russia's claims on the Arctic region, the Kremlin has poured massive resources into modernizing Soviet-era installations there.

The military outpost on Kotelny Island fell into neglect after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, but a massive effort to build a new base began in 2014 and took several years.

A group of reporters brought to the island by the Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday were shown Bastion anti-ship missile launchers positioned for a drill near the shore and Pantsyr-S1 air defense systems firing shots at a practice target.

The Russian military has kept Western media from visiting its Arctic facilities, so the trip offered a unique opportunity to watch the Russian expansion up close.

A big radar dome looms on a hill overlooking the coast, underlining the base's main mission of monitoring the strategic area.

In contrast with drab, Soviet-era facilities, the pristine new base features spacious living quarters, a gym and a sauna. Putin's words about the importance of the Arctic for Russia dot the base's walls and a symbolic border post sits in a hallway.

Soldiers at the base say they are proud of their mission despite the challenging Arctic environment.

'Proving to myself that I can do it raises my self-esteem,' said one of the soldiers, Sergei Belogov. 'Weather is our enemy here, so we need to protect ourselves from it to serve the Motherland.'

Extreme cold and fierce winds often make it hard to venture outside, and even winterized vehicles may have trouble operating when temperatures plunge to extreme lows and even special lubricants freeze.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin in December that the military has rebuilt or expanded numerous facilities across the polar region, revamping runways and deploying air defense assets. He said renovation works were conducted on a long string of Arctic territories.

The expanded infrastructure has allowed the Russian military to restore full radar coverage of the nation's 14,000-mile Arctic frontier and deploy fighter jets to protect its airspace.

The military also has undertaken a cleanup effort across the region, working to remove tens of thousands of tons of waste from the Arctic territories, most of it rusty fuel tanks left behind by the Soviet military.

The Russian soldiers share the island with polar bears, arctic foxes and wolves.

Officers said that, soon after the base opened, curious bears regularly prowled near its walls, sometimes even peering into its windows. On some occasions, soldiers had to use a truck to spook away a particularly curious bear wandering nearby.

Soldiers interviewed at the base said they marveled at the area's wildlife and its majestic Arctic landscapes.

'The nature here is extremely beautiful,' said Navy Lt. Umar Erkenov, who came from southern Russia. 'Meeting a polar bear is an experience that fills you with emotions. We have established friendly ties with them from the start. We don't touch them, they don't touch us.'

He said he's missing his wife and daughter, whom he can only see during his leave period once a year, but is proud of his mission.

'Few people do their job under such conditions,' he said. 'I feel proud that I'm here with my unit, doing my duty and protecting the Motherland.'


Personal note: I thought both Poles were off limits to any industrial movements? These are precious to the planet and the animals. Pollution would increase the ice melting adding to an environmental problem. Am I wrong or is it just a money making issue?


O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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