Putin & US tensions frost in the Arctic – Russia’s 13 bases set off North Pole alarm bells

Russia: Future lies in Arctic oil and gas extraction

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This is due to increasing concern that Russia is increasing its own military presence in the region. Washington has decided to appoint a new ambassador to the region in order to advance US interests.

According to The Daily Mail a spokesperson said that the ambassador would work with a wide range of governmental and non-governmental organisations, including indigenous groups.

They said: “The ambassador-at-large for the Arctic region will advance US policy in the Arctic, engage with counterparts in Arctic and non-Arctic nations as well as Indigenous groups, and work closely with domestic stakeholders, including state, local, and tribal governments, businesses, academic institutions, non-profit organisations, other federal government agencies and Congress.”

The move reflects increasing concern in Washington that Russia and China are gaining access to strategic assets such as waterways and territory helped in part by global warming.

It is estimated that there are $30 trillion (£26.6 trillion) in resources below the Arctic terrain.

At the same time Russia has built 13 new military airbases in the region, some of them on Soviet era sites.

Moscow has also increased patrols conducted by Mig-31BM Foxhound interceptors and Tu-22M3 bombers launched from these bases.

In recent years it has also developed long range S-400 and medium range SA-17 air defence systems.

NATO has also expressed concern about Moscow’s increasing military influence in the Arctic. 

The alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg travelled to the Canadian Arctic this week to assess Ottawa’s defences against a possible attack from Moscow.

Mr Stoltenberg visited the North Warning System radar station in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

The base is due to be modernised as part of a refurbishment of NORAD, the North American air defence system.

The former Norwegian Prime Minister warned that the North Pole would be the “shortest path” for a Russian attack in an essay to mark his visit.

He said: “The shortest path to North America for Russian missiles or bombers would be over the North Pole. 

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“This makes NORAD’s role vital for North America and for NATO.”

Mr Stoltenberg also went on to issue a warning about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions in the region.

He said: “Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a new naval strategy pledging to protect Arctic waters ‘by all means,’ including increased activity around the non-militarized Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard and hypersonic Zircon missile systems for its Northern Fleet.

“Just last week, Russia unveiled plans for a new strategic missile-carrying submarine cruiser for Arctic operations.

“Russia’s ability to disrupt Allied reinforcements across the North Atlantic is a strategic challenge to the Alliance.”

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