The Arctic race is gaining momentum. Russia has recently improved one of the military bases in the region, where it is able to monitor the movements of NATO ships and planes. The United States, which also wants to strengthen its presence in the Arctic, sees Russia’s growing military might as “concerned”.
Russia is strengthening its military presence and power in the Arctic. The country recently expanded the airbase located further north in Russia. The Nagurskoye runway was over 3,500 meters long and, with this expansion, it is prepared to receive “all types of airplanes”, as Russian Major General Igor Churkin assured CNN. The Arctic base is now better able to supply military aircraft, including jet fighters to patrol the polar skies.
The new base can accommodate about 150 soldiers and was designed so that the Northern Russian Fleet is autonomous and self-sufficient. This military capability meets the objective of President Vladimir Putin, who wants to strengthen Moscow’s presence in the Arctic to ensure Russia’s “future” as well.
The United States, on the other hand, does not look so favorably upon this growing military might. During the meeting of the Arctic Council, which took place this Wednesday in the capital of Iceland, the US Secretary of State said that the United States – also interested in increasing its presence in the region – is “concerned about some of the recent activities in the Arctic “. Antony Blinken recalled the importance of “continuing to maintain this region as a region of peaceful cooperation”.
The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental entity that includes Canada, Denmark, the United States, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. The group is thus made up of eight nations bordering the north polar region. This year, Russia assumed the rotating presidency of the Council.
Antony Blinken came face to face with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday outside the Arctic Council in Reykjavík. During the meeting, the American Secretary of State also said that “it is no secret” that the United States and Russia “have differences”.
Sergey Lavrov replied that Russia was prepared to discuss “all issues on the table”, but added: “We differ a lot when it comes to our assessment of the international situation and our approaches to how we should resolve it”.
Earlier this week, the Russian Foreign Minister had already refuted criticism that Russia was increasing its military presence in the Arctic. “Everyone knows that this is our territory, our land,” he argued.
After the meeting between Lavrov and Blinken, the Kremlin (Russian government) spokesman was optimistic about the direction of relations with the United States. “The meeting itself was already a positive sign,” said Dmitri Peskov.
But on Thursday, Vladimir Putin threatened to “break his teeth” to anyone who tried to take over parts of his territory. “Everyone wants to bite us or bite something of ours, but those who liked to do so must know that we will leave their teeth, “he warned, adding that the development of military capability is the guarantee of that.” The same thing has always happened: when Russia becomes stronger, they find excuses to prevent its development, “said the Russian President.
One of the reasons that tensions have increased in the Arctic, a strategic area, is global warming – rising temperatures and melting temperatures are making more polar territory accessible.
RUSSIA REINFORCES POWER BASED ON THE NORTH
The construction of the military base known as Arctic Trefoil was completed in 2017. It is 257 kilometers (east) from the easternmost part of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, which is the territory of NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization, of which the United States is part.
According to Russian soldiers, the military base is able to monitor the movements of Atlantic Alliance ships and planes. One of the commanders told “CNN” that troops frequently followed US planes and other planes that they consider to be “adverse”.
“Just yesterday we saw a NATO reconnaissance plane. We followed it for four hours, transmitting all the information to the upper command centers, the plane’s positions, and its trajectory, where it was headed,” said Russian Major General Igor Churkin. “The enemy will not go unnoticed,” he said.
Russia has been trying to expand territorial claims in the region. In March, for example, Moscow presented two new addenda to the UN to expand the international definition of the limits of its continental shelf.
Source: with Agencies