Race to the Arctic. Satellite images show growth in Russian military power

Race to the Arctic. Satellite images show growth in Russian military power
Race to the Arctic. Satellite images show growth in Russian military power

The development of this torpedo, capable of launching a warhead of several megatons, is advancing rapidly. The launch of this type of weapon would provoke radioactive waves that would make coastal areas uninhabitable for several decades.

In November, the then Secretary of State responsible for International Security and Non-Proliferation, Christopher A. Ford, considered that the Poseidon had been designed “to flood the coastal cities of the United States with radioactive tsunamis”.

Vice Admiral Nils Andreas Stensønes, Norway’s chief of intelligence, tells CNN that his agency has assessed Poseidon as “part of the new type of nuclear deterrent weapons” that is “in the testing phase”.
Russian military accumulation was accompanied by the movements of troops and equipment from NATO and the United States, reveals CNN. American B-1 Lancer bombers, stationed at the Norwegian air base in Ørland, recently completed missions in the eastern Barents Sea, for example.

There is clearly a military challenge for Russians in the Arctic”, A senior US State Department official told CNN, who points to the repair and improvements to the former Soviet bases, built during the Cold War.

Jewels from the Russian arsenal

Satellite images show the slow and steady strengthening of aerodromes and bases, as is the case with the Russian military base further north, on the island of Terra de Alexandra, built during the 1950s and which has been the target of interventions since 2015.

This situation has implications for the United States and its allies, not least because it creates the capacity to project force into the North Atlantic“added the official.

Although the bases in question integrate Russian territory and form part of a plan of self-defense, the American authorities express concern, not least because this This power increases the Russian presence in the region and could allow the country to actually control the areas of the Arctic that are more distant and that, in the future, will be without ice due to the climatic emergency.

“Russia is restructuring aerodromes and facilities from the Soviet era, building new ports, search and rescue centers and increasing the fleet of icebreakers, nuclear and conventional,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, spokesman for the Pentagon, speaking to CNN.

Similarly, Russia is expanding its network of anti-aircraft and coastal defense missile systems, which gives Moscow the power to deny access “to important parts of the Arctic,” added the official.

Thomas Campbell also spoke of a successful test, last November, of the Tsirkon, a hypersonic cruise missile. Both this and the Poseidon torpedo are strategic weapons of Russia announced by the President in March 2018.

In recent years, the climate emergency has removed many of Russia’s natural obstacles to the North at an unexpected rate, experts acknowledge.

“The melting of the ice is happening faster than scientists predicted or thought possible several years ago. This will be a dramatic transformation in the coming decades”, the senior State Department official told CNN.

Russia did not want to answer the questions posed by CNN, but the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has insisted in recent statements that the goals it is trying to achieve are “peaceful” and of an economic nature.

New route of maritime trade

In addition to defense issues, there is also the aspect linked to maritime transport. American authorities are concerned about Moscow’s attempt to dominate the “North Sea Route”, a direct link between Norway and Alaska, through the northern coast of Russia.

This route is a possible alternative to the Suez Canal, which just a few days ago faced a blocking situation that affected world trade for a week. Through the North Sea Route, travel time between Asia and Europe can be halved.

Pentagon spokesman Thomas Campbell acknowledges that Russia is looking into the possibility of a new and important international shipping route, but points to the dangers of exclusive country control.

According to the official, Russian law “requires any ship in transit on the North Sea Route to have a Russian pilot on board to steer the ship”, even if it is in international waters. On the other hand, Russia is also trying to establish that all foreign ships need permission from Moscow to do this route.

These movements and rules are “an effort to establish some traffic rules and get some acceptance from the international community so that I can then say that this is how things will have to work,” said the Pentagon official.

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