Russian President Vladimir Putin is beefing up his military forces in the Arctic on a scale that hasn’t been seen since the days of the USSR and the Cold War. He’s reopening closed bases and opening new ones in a bid to control the cold but natural resource-rich region
One such base holds the 80th Motor Rifle Arctic Brigade where Putin put on a dog and pony show for the press complete with tanks, snowmobiles, even dog and reindeer sleds in a show of force projection.
Located near the border with Finland in the Murmansk region, the Soviet-era base was refurbished and formally opened in 2015.
Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has launched the biggest military build-up in the Arctic since the fall of the USSR — bolstering its fleet of nuclear-fueled icebreakers, reopening abandoned Soviet military bases and building a string of new ones.
Russia isn’t alone in its Arctic ambition. The United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland all lay claim to the area and its abundant natural resources.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic may contain 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its natural gas. And thanks to climate change, melting polar ice is expected to make drilling, mining, and shipping even easier.
With billions of dollars in potential profits at stake, the race to control the region’s riches is on.
Russia is trying to claim 460,000 square miles of the Arctic Ocean as its national territory — an area that includes the North Pole. Russian divers even planted a national flag on the North Pole seabed in a symbolic claim to the region’s energy riches.
Washington is watching closely. Asked about Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic at his confirmation hearing, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said it was “not to our advantage to leave any part of the world” to others.
With tensions rising again between the US and Russia, the highest since the Cold War, is the Arctic going to be the new German frontier in the escalation of arms?
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Photo courtesy AP