The Pentagon is concerned about what they believe is Russian force building in the Arctic, but is accused of rattling the sabers with its presence in Norway and the High North.
“Russia is upgrading Soviet-era air bases and radar installations, building new ports and rescue centers and expanding its fleet of nuclear-powered and conventional icebreakers,” Pentagon spokesman Thomas Campbell told CNN.
According to Campell, satellite images show that Russia is also in the process of upgrading its network of air and coastal defense installations in order to respond to attacks and strengthen the defense of its areas in the Arctic. That worries the Americans.
– Of course, we monitor this very closely. Nobody is interested in a militarization of the Arctic, says another Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, to DPA.
He emphasizes that the United States has security interests in the region that are very important both for the country’s defense and as “a potential strategic corridor” between Asia, Europe and the United States.
Climate change has led to ice melting and opened up parts of the region, where large amounts of oil and gas are hidden, as well as valuable minerals.
New sea route
The melting of ice in the Arctic can also make the Northeast Passage ice-free, which can have major consequences for shipping traffic between Asia and Europe.
“It can change global shipping and thus also the shipping of over 90 percent of all goods in the world,” Elizabeth Buchanan at Deakin University in Australia told CNN.
Russia will, however, control the Northeast Passage, which the United States dislikes and claims is in violation of international shipping agreements.
The United States is also concerned about the Russians’ development of new and advanced weapons systems, which are being tested in the north.
One of the things that worries them the most, and which is referred to as the Russians’ new superweapon, is the nuclear-powered Poseidon 2M39 torpedo.
Russia is also developing a new submarine type to carry the estimated 20-meter torpedo, and the Belgorod submarine is scheduled to be ready for launch in September.
The Pentagon’s fears are that the Poseidon torpedo could sneak past current US defense systems and cause “a radioactive tsunami” that will make large coastal areas in the United States uninhabitable for decades.
According to the head of the Intelligence Service in Norway, Vice Admiral Nils Andreas Stensønes, the torpedo is straight enough in the test phase.
“But it is a strategic weapon system that can be steered towards targets, and it has a significance far beyond the region in which it is now being tested,” he told CNN.
– It seems to be a reality, says Professor Katarzyna Zysk at the Department of Defense Studies in Norway.
According to the Pentagon, Russia has recently also conducted successful tests of several other new weapons, including the hypersonic cruise missile Tsirkon, which can be used against sea targets.
– Tsirkon is a new technology and has hypersonic technology, which makes it difficult to defend against, says Stensønes.
Russia maintains that it has peaceful intentions in the Arctic, but also refers to what they refer to as the US and NATO force building in the north.
The USA has stationed B-1 Lancer bombers and around 200 soldiers on Ørland in Trøndelag and has also recently carried out operations east of the Barents Sea.
A nuclear-powered American Seawolf submarine appeared outside Tromsø last August, which according to defense experts was seen as a clear signal to Moscow as it was then five years since the US Navy last posted a photo of such a submarine in surface position.
The Americans are also in the process of upgrading the Globus radar facility in Vardø, only 50 kilometers from the border with Russia, and they have personnel stationed there.
According to the Intelligence Service, the upgraded radar will be used next year, for protests from Russia, which has some of its most important military bases on the Kola Peninsula.
– We will implement retaliation measures to strengthen our own security, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry stated two years ago.
What is now happening in the Arctic may be part of these measures.
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