A new era of dominance in a polar region opening up. The size and scale of Russia's military activities in the Arctic are producing negative perceptions and growing suspicion in the West.
UPI reports that Russia, long seen as an aggressive and unpredictable bear in international politics, has stepped up its military activities in the region – including large-scale exercises, an extensive modernization program and the reconstruction of infrastructure.
Observers, mainstream media in particular, have adopted the Cold War narratives of the Russian bear vying for military superiority, border delineations and dominance over natural resources in the High North.
This is something that's raising fears that the Arctic could become the next crisis zone between Russia and the West.
The expansion of its military presence there comes as the U.S. and Scandinavian states modernize their own defenses in the region.
“The buildup of the permanent group of troops in the Arctic is underway,” Russian Defense
Minister Sergei Shoigu said
. “This will expand the armed forces’ capabilities for securing the defense of the national interests in the region.”
Moscow is reopening old airfields and military bases on the New Siberian Islands and the Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya archipelagos – and constructing new ones.
It has also deployed extra submarines, patrol vessels, nuclear-powered icebreakers, anti-aircraft systems and military aircraft in the North. Large-scale and unannounced military exercises are being carried out close to northern neighbors, with the intensity of air and submarine patrols in the region reportedly reaching levels last seen during the Cold War.