With the reforms of the Russian armed forces getting increasingly large-scale, the country plans to boost its military presence in the Arctic and deploy a special-purpose motorized rifle brigade on the Kolsky Peninsula. A statement to that effect came from Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Land Forces Colonel General Alexander Postnikov at a session of the Federation Council Defense and Security Committee.
The Arctic region is no longer considered to be a dead zone. The land of endless ice possesses an estimated 7 percent of world oil reserves and a third of the planet’s gas reserves, as well as gold and diamonds. Global warming and melting Arctic ice forecast by scientists will reveal the Arctic Sea’s untapped reserves of abundant natural and mineral resources. This has already become a matter of dispute between countries which are claiming sovereignty over the Arctic territories.
The list of those bidding for the Arctic bonanza includes eight countries: Russia, Canada, the US, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway. China also has a keen interest in joining this group, even though it bears no relation to the North Pole at all. That country’s icebreaker, The Snow Dragon, has twice entered the Arctic waters.
The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has prepared a report instructing the Navy to reconsider its stand on the North Pole and reorganize its work there in view of the aggravating situation. There is a suggestion to beef up Arctic training for naval forces, the marine corps and the coastguard, to better equip the fleet with Arctic-class ships and new icebreakers, as well as to set up permanent underwater and surface tracking and monitoring stations, Director of the World Center for Weapon Trade Analysis Igor Korotchenko elaborates.
American multipurpose nuclear submarines carry out regular combat patrol missions in the Arctic Ocean. Not for scientific purposes, naturally. Norway, which is now actively improving its Arctic warfare capabilities, has a rather high potential as well, Igor Korotchenko said.
A fifth of the Russian territory is located in the Arctic, justifying the presence of a great military potential able to defend its national interests in this region. When creating “transpolar troops”, the Russian Defense Ministry plans to adopt the experience of our country’s northern neighbors - Norway and Finland - as well as to equip its soldiers with special uniforms and hardware, providing for the possibility of combat actions amid severe frosts. The brigade will most likely receive combined-arms weapons, armored vehicles and Vityaz-type tow trucks, Igor Korotchenko goes on to explain.
The equipment at the disposal of our country’s ground forces should function amid both high and low temperatures, pursuant to the requirements of Russian military standards. Additional opportunities envisage the deployment of military icebreakers capable of not only escorting ships through troubled waters but also of functioning independently and carrying out particular missions in time of war, Igor Korotchenko said in conclusion.
In one of his recent speeches, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Arctic security is becoming a key issue of the Alliance’s new strategy. He also pointed to the need of cooperating with Russia and said that there is a large scope of Russia-NATO cooperation in the Arctic region as regards the military sphere, ecology and rescue operations. However, all disputes between the Arctic states can be suspended by nature itself. Scientists may also be mistaken and it cannot be ruled out that the next climate cycle will bring another fall of temperatures instead of global warming.