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Thread: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

  1. #61
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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    We should force one of those fuckers out of the sky but that would take some stones and our muslim president doesn't have any.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    I have a bad feeling about this Russia stuff.

    Bad.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    2015 Titor Nuke?
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    My thinking. Yeah. I think so.

    I just can't let myself believe the guy was "for real" - but then again, who knows?

    What IF he was, he was right, and things aren't precisely as he said - remember he refused to "make predictions" (and remember one of my premises was that "If you're from the future, and you make a statement about the past then it necessarily becomes a prediction for US for OUR future").

    But, he said that by 2015 (I thought it was 2014, but you corrected me on that) and it will be before this year is up. And when it escalates, it will happen FAST.

    In minutes.

    And most of us will be caught unawares.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    US Senator: Russia's Arctic militarization is 'disturbing' and 'impressive'








    Ministry of Defence of the Russian FederationTroops engage in an Arctic airmobile assault at Kotelny Island, within the New Siberian Islands


    Russian defense minister explains why the Kremlin is militarizing the Arctic

    Several US lawmakers are warning US military leaders about the pace and scope of Russia’s Arctic militarization, including the addition of new brigades, ships and airfields to the fast-changing region.

    Russian initiatives are making it increasingly difficult for the US to successfully compete in the area as new sea lanes emerge, they say.

    “When you look at what the Russians are doing in the Arctic, it is actually quite impressive –impressive, but disturbing,” Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Ala., told military leaders at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee Navy budget hearing.

    “The Russians are looking at adding four new combat brigades in the Arctic as our US Army is thinking at pulling them out of there,” he said. “I think that would give Vladimir Putin a lot of joy. They are building 13 new airfields and conducting long-range air patrols off the coast of Alaska.”

    Sullivan said the US military is ill-advised to consider removing one or two Army Brigade Combat teams from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright in Alaska.

    “That we would even contemplate taking one soldier away from Alaska is lunacy given Putin’s recent actions in the Arctic,” he said. “Alaska’s Army BCTs are the best cold-weather and mountain-hardened BCTs in the country. The training makes them uniquely valuable to the US Army and their presence in Alaska hopefully ensures that other nations never make us use them.”

    Experts say the pace of melting ice and rising water temperatures is expected to open more waterways in the region and possibly new sea-routes for commercial shipping, transport, strategic military presence and adventure tourism. The developments carry geopolitical and national-security risks, as well.

    Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said the US needs to intensify its preparations for Arctic activity.

    “We need to look at it deliberately and understand it,” he said. “We need to get industry up there and study the place and find out when it is going to melt.

    What are the sea lines that will open? Are there territorial disputes? Are there threats? Russia is increasing their military presence which sort of makes sense.

    Also, how do we survive up there with our ships our aircraft and our people?”


    APThe US Coast Guard operating in the Arctic.

    The Navy is researching technologies that will better enable sailors, ships, sensors and weapons to operate in such a harsh environment.

    “We have to look at the hardening of our hulls,” he said. “It is not just surface ships. It is the aircraft and the undersea domain. I’ve directed the increase in our activity up there.”

    The Office of Naval Research has deployed drones underneath the ice to assess the temperature and salt content of the water so as to better predict the pace of melting ice and the opening up of sea routes.

    Greenert also said the Navy is increasing joint exercises with Canada and Scandinavian countries in preparation for increased Arctic activity.

    Despite these measures, some lawmakers are still not convinced that the US is doing enough to counterbalance Russian military initiatives in the region. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, expressed concern that the US only operates a handful of ice breaker ships compared to Russia’s large fleet of ice breakers.

    “We have one heavy-duty and one medium-duty Coast Guard ice breakers,” he said. “The Russians have 17 ice breakers in the Arctic. If we are talking about innocent passage and trade, ice breakers are the highway builders and that is an example of how we are really not adequately developing our strategic interests in that region.”

    Sullivan also echoed Sen. King’s concerns about the small US fleet of ice breakers, adding that the Russians have six new icebreakers in development with five more planned.

    The US has more than 1,000 miles of Arctic coastline along its Alaskan border. However, Russia’s Northern Sea Route, which parallels the Arctic and Russian border, is by far the largest existing shipping route in the region.

    Recognizing that the quickening pace of melting ice and warming water temperatures may open up sea lanes sooner than expected, the Navy last year released an Updated Arctic Road Map, which details the service’s preparations for increasing its presence in the region.


    CNA

    The Navy’s initial version of the document released in 2009 includes mission analysis and “fleet readiness” details for the environment, including search and rescue, maritime security, C4ISR, cooperation with the US Coast Guard, strategic sealift and strategic deterrence, among other things.

    “The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe,” the document states. “While significant uncertainty exists in projections for Arctic ice extent, the current scientific consensus indicates the Arctic may experience nearly ice-free summers sometime in the 2030s.”

    An assessment by the Navy’s Task Force Climate Change determined the rate of melting has increased since the time of this report. As a result, Navy planners anticipate needing to operate there to a much greater extent by the middle of the 2020s instead of the 2030s.

    Although the thinning of the Arctic ice was reported by Navy submarines in the 1990s, there have been considerable changes to the environment since that time, said Robert Freeman, spokesman for the oceanographer of the Navy.

    While stressing that budget constraints might limit what preparations are possible, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus also said the service was increasing its exercises and preparations for greater activity in the region.

    “As the ice melts in the Arctic our responsibilities go up. It is not just platforms and capabilities — it is what we are facing,” he said. “We not only have less ice but it is freezing in different ways. The ice is forming in different ways that are beginning to be a hazard to navigation. We’re upping our exercises and research into the area.”

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Sky News@SkyNews キ 15m15 minutes ago Putin has launched a massive military exercise involving 40,000 servicemen in the Arctic http://trib.al/MMkq52A pic.twitter.com/pSIKkCrDQk

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Rogozin to top of the world after controversial Svalbard visit

    Dmitry Rogozin (in white jacket) went to the North Pole late Saturday evening after his controversial visit to Svalbard. The man to his right in red jacket is Russia's Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergey Donskoy. (Photo: from the Facebook profile of Dmitry Rogozin.)



    Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister left Norway’s Svalbard archipelago Saturday evening and flew to the North Pole. On Sunday, he started to send tweets making fun of Norwegian authorities.



    By
    Thomas Nilsen







    April 19, 2015






    Related
    “Security situation in the Nordic countries significantly worsened”
    Shoygu: Military presence in the Arctic is a question of national security
    Controversial politician to head Artic commission
    More naval infantry to the Northern Fleet


    “I am a well-informed man, but had no idea how life Russians here on Svalbard have,” said Rogozin to the news agency TASS after his visit to Barentsburg on Saturday.
    The Russian Deputy Prime Minister’s visit to Svalbard seemed well planned, but came as a big surprise to Norwegian authorities who have the sovereignty of the Arctic Archipelago. Dmitry Rogozin is listed among Russian and Ukrainian military and officials not wanted due to their direct involvement in destabilizing the situation in Eastern Ukraine.
    Norway says Dmitry Rogozin is sanctioned because he has “publicly called for the annexation of Crimea.”
    The Norwegian Foreign Ministry didn’t know about Rogozin’s “Tour-de-Spitsbergen” before being contacted by BarentsObserver.
    “We have clearly expressed to the Russian embassy in Oslo that the listed people are not wanted on Svalbard,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Frode Andersen told BarentsObserver on Saturday evening.
    While Norwegian officials were contacting Russian authorities asking for an explanation, Rogozin himself had already left Svalbard for the Russian scientific drifting ice-station North Pole-2015.
    Around 20.00 Saturday evening, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin posted the following text from Longyearbyen airport on his Facebook profile: “Взлетаем. Через 2,5 часа сядем на льдине рядом с нашей полярной станцией” … or in English: “Take off. After 2.5 hours, sit on an ice floe near our polar station.” On Sunday, the TV news channel Rossiya 24 showed film of Rogozin and his team coming out of the An-74 aircraft that brought them to the Arctic sea-ice.
    Together with the Governor of Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Igor Koshin, Minister of Natural Resources Sergey Donskoy and Minister of Economic Developmet Aleksey Ulyukayev, Dmitry Rogozin made the official opening of the research station on the drifting ice in the High Arctic, the press service of the Governor of Nenets AO reports.
    The Russian ministerial delegation is likely the largest VIP-delegation every visiting the top of the world.
    From North Pole-2015, Rogozin and his team flew with helicopter to the geographical North Pole. The Deputy Prime Minister early Sunday morning posted a tweet with photos from 90ーN.
    According to Regnum, the team made a series of photos with the Russian flag, the Victory flag of WWII, St. Andrew’s flag and the flag of Russia’s Military Historical Society. The delegation spent half an hour at the North Pole before flying back to the drifting ice-station from where they could take off with a Russian aircraft on the ice.
    Dmitry Rogozin is in charge of Russia’s military industrial complex and was ambassador to NATO from 2008 to 2011.
    Late last year a new version of Russia’s military doctrine was adopted. The doctrine for the first time highlighted the protection of Russia’s national interests in the Arctic. Two weeks ago, military paratroopers for the first time in history jumped and landed on the ice near the North Pole.
    From January 1 this year, a joint Arctic Command is organized as part of Russia’s Northern fleet in order to control and coordinate troops in the Arctic.
    Speaking the drifting ice-station North Pole-2015 on Saturday evening, Dmitry Rogozin said Russia should make every effort to come to the Arctic and master-control the parts belonging to the country.
    “There are many problems that are not solved for decades during Soviet times and in the pre-Soviet period,” Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin said as quoted by the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.
    Well back on the Russian mainland on Sunday, Dmitry Rogozin started to post ironic tweets.
    Linking BarentsObserver and different Russian media-article on the Norwegian reactions to his Svalbard visit, the Deputy Prime Minister says Просто завидуют, что мы на Северном полюсе купались) …(Just jealous that we were swimming at the North Pole). A second tweet reads После драки кулаками не машут” (“After a fight, its too late wawe your fists” in the understanding “No use to cry over spilt milk” or “The bus is gone”).












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    添ou Americans are so gullible.
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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic






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    Why Does The Pentagon Want To Refurbish A Base In Iceland?

    The $21.4 million in upgrades are designed to equip the station with reconnaissance planes that will patrol the North Atlantic for Russian submarines.

    March 27, 2016

    When the United States closed the Keflavik Naval Air Station in Iceland in 2006, military analysts in both nations were stunned.

    While a menacing Russian agenda – the genesis of the base in 1951 – seemed remote in the aftermath of the cold war, Iceland was still viewed as a gem of a monitoring post.

    Now, the US is giving its strategic value a fresh appraisal.

    Last month, the Pentagon allocated $21.4 million in its 2017 fiscal budget to renew hanger facilities and restore infrastructure at the base. The planned upgrades will pave the way for basing P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance planes there. The submarine-hunting P-8s will help patrol the North Atlantic – and serve as a counterbalance to Russia's growing military presence in the region.

    "Having eyes and ears in Iceland brings tremendous strategic value and provides a listening post for the US and NATO allies in terms of tracking Russian movement, especially in the Arctic," says Carl Hvenmark Nilsson, a visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    Mr. Nilsson says Moscow's revanchist foreign policy, as seen in Ukraine, helps explain its intensified military activity in the North Atlantic and Arctic. Russia has conducted three major military exercises in the region in the past three years: They include an operational-strategic exercise of more than 100,000 soldiers in 2014 and a snap military drill last March that was made up of 45,000 servicemen, 15 submarines, and 41 warships “displaying full combat readiness," says Nilsson.

    Russia's reemerging threat

    Iceland's geography has been likened to an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Atlantic. US Navy Capt. Sean Liedman, a military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, says the country's location midway between the US and Europe makes it well suited as a support stop.

    Indeed, Iceland has been a stronghold for military strategists since World War II, when Allied forces used it to track German submarines in waters stretching from Greenland to Britain.

    NATO members, including the US, signed a bilateral agreement with Iceland in 1951 to operate the base. It became crucial for tracking Soviet submarines that were easier to detect as they navigated narrow underwater recesses off Iceland.

    At its peak during the cold war, about 5,000 US Navy and Air Force personnel and their families were stationed at Keflavik.

    But in 2006, the Pentagon announced it would close the base as its focus shifted to Iraq and Afghanistan. At the time, Russian aggression in the North Atlantic seemed remote.

    The announcement shocked Icelanders and military analysts alike. One Icelandic official described the sudden departure as leaving "bruises and scars." Many viewed it as peremptory. Still, the closure didn't leave Iceland – which has a small coast guard but no standing army – defenseless. Under a 1951 defense agreement, the US and other NATO nations share duties to defend it.

    'Money well spent'

    Today, Russia's growing military presence in the North Atlantic also has US defense experts worried about the security of underwater telecommunication cables. Ret. Navy Capt. Gerry Hendrix, a defense specialist at the Center for a New American Security in Washington who says the US should never have reduced its presence in Iceland, warns that interference by Russian submarines could be detrimental to countries on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Then there are the trade, safety, and environmental issues surrounding Iceland's geopolitics. Iceland is a NATO member, and it backs Western sanctions against Russia. On the other hand, Russia is an important buyer of Icelandic seafood, one of the country's top exports.

    John Higginbotham, a senior fellow at Canada's Centre for International Governance Innovation, says the Pentagon's announcement to upgrade – but not fully reopen – the Keflavik base suggests that the US "obviously didn't want to be provocative but it does add to their capacity."

    In a statement released earlier this month, Iceland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs underscored that there are no talks between the US and Iceland to permanently station American troops at Keflavik. Yet the statement did say that "there have been discussions on the possibility of increased presence of US and other NATO Allies in the North Atlantic and in Iceland" based on "mutual defense commitments."

    Nilsson says reestablishing a presence in Iceland "is money very well spent for NATO and for the US Navy."

    "It will also send a very clear message to the Kremlin that it will be a measure from NATO to deter Russia from further intrusion of international water," he adds.

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    U.S. F-15s Deployed To Iceland

    April 2, 2016

    Demonstrating its commitment to a "free" and "secure" Europe, the United States deployed 12 F-15C Eagles and approximately 350 airmen to Iceland and the Netherlands on Friday, the Air Force announced.

    U.S. aircraft units from the 131st Fighter Squadron at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts and the 194th Fighter Squadron at Fresno Air National Guard Base in California will support NATO air surveillance missions in Iceland and conduct flying training in the Netherlands.

    The F-15s are not the only package of American fighters being sent to Europe in an effort to deter further Russian aggression in the region.

    In February, the U.S. said it will send six F-15s to Finland as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which the United States initiated in 2014 to reassure NATO allies after Russian military intervention in Ukraine. These aircraft are scheduled to deploy next month.

    Although it maintains a small coast guard force, Iceland is the only country in NATO that does not have a military.

    The U.S. used to have an air base in Iceland during the Cold War when Iceland sat at a key strategic location in the middle of the Atlantic.

    But that base was closed in 2006.

    While NATO has maintained air control over Iceland since 2008, their defenses have been unable to stop Russia from reportedly making air incursions into Icelandic airspace.

    The F-15s are part of the U.S.'s Theater Security Packages, a rotational force used to augment existing Air Force capabilities in Europe, according to the Air Force.

    "Russia's increased patrols with fighters, bombers and submarines in the North Atlantic have brought new attention to the region and the need for NATO to have a presence there as well," said Magnus Nordenman, director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative Atlantic Council.

    Tensions between the West and Russia have increased in recent years, in large part because of Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and its support for separatists elsewhere in eastern Ukraine.

    The aircraft are scheduled to remain in Europe through September.

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    GOP Lawmaker Urges Trump to Buy New Icebreakers Amid Russian Buildup in Arctic

    Russia set to debut the world's largest nuclear-powered icebreaker

    February 21, 2017

    Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.) urged President Donald Trump on Tuesday to pursue funding for the U.S. Coast Guard to purchase new ice-capable vessels to counter Russia's military buildup in the Arctic.

    Hunter, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, warned in a letter to Trump that Russia is set to debut the world's largest nuclear-powered icebreaker, Arktika, while the United States struggles to maintain its two 1970s-era icebreakers.

    "The Coast Guard is being forced to order parts online and cannibalize older vessels to maintain a minimum level of operability—just to operate a single heavy icebreaker," Hunter wrote.

    "Meanwhile, Russia is launching its biggest icebreaker—the Arktika. It should be of tremendous concern that next to this vessel, there is no equivalent in the world," he wrote. "In other words, Russia is not just exceeding the U.S. in icebreaker production and Arctic presence, they're in a class by themselves and setting a standard, supported by enhanced capability, that is unmatched."

    Hunter, a former Marine, said the Coast Guard has a "critical" need for at least six additional icebreakers, three heavy duty and three medium duty, to project power and advance strategic interests in the Arctic.

    "It's not the Navy that will be responsible for patrolling the Arctic. It's the Coast Guard," he wrote. "Funding for six new icebreakers must be a high priority to ensure the Coast Guard can begin undertaking a more expansive Arctic mission without any further delay.

    Hunter wrote a similar letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Friday urgently requesting they support the development of six new icebreakers.

    Sen. Dan Sullivan (R., Alaska) warned earlier this month that the United States is falling behind in the Arctic amid Moscow's push to expand its military presence through a rapid buildup of icebreakers and ice-capable infrastructure.

    Russia recently built 14 airfields and arctic ports, four new Arctic brigade combat teams, and 40 icebreakers, some of which are nuclear powered. It is developing another 11 icebreakers.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin is also moving to re-open shuttered Soviet military, air, and radar bases on remote Arctic islands, marking the biggest military push by the Kremlin in the region since the Cold War.

    In December, the Pentagon released a strategic report urging Congress to approve additional funding for the department to modernize infrastructure, expand its naval fleet, and enhance training and exercises in the region.

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    US Coast Guard Chief: Russia Has 'Got Us At Checkmate' In The Arctic

    May 6, 2017

    The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard issued a stark warning on Wednesday that Russia was leagues ahead of Washington in the Arctic. And while the warming Arctic opens up, the United States could be caught flat-footed while other geopolitical rivals swiftly step in.

    Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, warned that Russia is building up a huge military and industrial presence in the region while the United States dawdled. Russia is showing “I’m here first, and everyone else, you’re going to be playing catch-up for a generation to catch up to me first,” said Zukunft in remarks before the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They’ve made a strategic statement,” he said.

    Take icebreakers, specialized ships that can punch through thick Arctic ice and ensure access to sea lanes for both commercial and military ships. Russia has 40, while the United States has only two in service today, and only one really available for the Arctic.

    As Arctic ice recedes, it’s opening access to a rich bed of natural resources other countries like Russia and China are hungrily eyeing: An estimated 30 percent of the world’s untapped gas reserves, 13 percent of the oil reserves, and $1 trillion in minerals. The United States will struggle to keep other geopolitical rivals from filling the void without a proper Arctic footprint, Zukunft warned.

    The Polar Star, the last remaining U.S. heavy icebreaker built in the 1970s, is well past its prime. “Having only one heavy icebreaker … it is the one aspect I lose sleep over,” he said. Zukunft is pushing for funding from Congress to build six new icebreakers by 2023, high aims given the Coast Guard’s rocky start in the federal budget process.

    He even said a new icebreaker fleet could need “offensive and defense armed capability” to hedge against any sort of showdown with Russia. But that’s all in the distant future, and if the Polar Star breaks down there’s little left in the U.S. inventory to take its place.

    All the while, Russia is slated to launch two ice-breaking corvette ships armed with cruise missiles in the next several years. “We’re not building anything in the Navy surface fleet to counteract that,” Zukunft said.

    That doesn’t mean Russia’s buildup is directed at U.S. Arctic territory around Alaska; most of its chess pieces are with its Northern fleet in the west, pointed toward Europe and the Atlantic. “Russia’s Pacific fleet is rather under-resourced compared to the Northern fleet,” said Magnus Nordenman, director of the Atlantic Council’s Transatlantic Security Initiative.

    And Russia isn’t only bulking up its Arctic footprint for nefarious geopolitical gains against its former Cold War rival. “Their buildup makes economic sense. It’s a key region for Russia’s economy; 20 percent of its GDP comes out of the Arctic,” Nordenman told Foreign Policy.

    Still, Zukunft is worried if things go south in the high north, Russia will have a big leg up on the United States.

    “They’ve got all their chess pieces on the board right now, and right now we’ve got a pawn and maybe a rook,” he said. “If you look at this Arctic game of chess, they’ve got us at checkmate right at the very beginning.”

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    Russia Showcases Arctic Hardware In Red Square Military Parade

    May 9, 2017

    Russia rolled out air defense systems built to operate in sub-zero Arctic conditions on Tuesday as it showcased its military might at a parade on Moscow's Red Square.

    The parade, an annual event commemorating the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, took place under gray skies as President Vladimir Putin looked on from a platform alongside Soviet war veterans.

    The Kremlin has been flexing its military muscle in the hydrocarbon-rich Arctic region, as it vies for dominance with rivals Canada, the United States and Norway.

    "Lessons of the past war remind us to be vigilant, and the Armed Forces of Russia are capable of repelling any potential aggression," Putin told the parade.

    "But for an effective battle with terrorism, extremism, neo-Nazism and other threats the whole international community needs to be consolidated. ... We are open for such cooperation."

    An aerial show by Russia's air force, including warplanes that have flown missions to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's army, was canceled because of low visibility.

    Smaller parades were held in cities across Russia, in Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula, which Russia annexed three years ago, as well as at Russia's Hmeimim air base in Syria.

    Moldovan President Igor Dodon was the only foreign dignitary to attend the Moscow parade. In prior years, leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping had attended.

    Tuesday's parade was the first time Russia had showcased its Tor-M and Pantsir SA air defense systems, painted in the white and black colors of the country's Arctic forces.

    Also on display were columns of troops, tanks and Russia's Yars intercontinental ballistic missile system.

    Putin said: "The Russian soldier today, as in all times, showing courage and heroism, is ready for any feat, for any sacrifice for the sake of his motherland and people."


    Russian servicemen parade with vehicles during the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II on the Red Square in Moscow.


    Russian servicemen march during the parade marking the World War II anniversary in Moscow.


    Russian servicemen march during the parade marking the World War II anniversary in Moscow.


    A Russian army band plays during the parade marking the World War II anniversary in Moscow.


    Russian servicemen stand atop a tank during the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II on the Red Square in Moscow.


    Russian servicemen parade with tanks during the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II on the Red Square in Moscow.


    Two Russian servicemen sit inside a Buk-M2 missile system during the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II on the Red Square in Moscow.


    Russian servicemen parade during the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II on the Red Square in Moscow.


    Russian servicewomen parade during the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II on the Red Square in Moscow.


    Russian servicemen parade with Tigr-M (Tiger) all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles and Kornet-D1 anti-tank guided missile systems during the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II on the Red Square in Moscow.


    Russian servicewomen march during a parade marking the World War II anniversary in Moscow.


    A Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile system is seen during the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II on the Red Square in Moscow.


    Russian T-14 tanks with the Armata Universal Combat Platform tanks drive during the parade marking the World War II anniversary in Moscow.


    Russian servicewomen march during the parade marking the World War II anniversary in Moscow.


    Russian servicemen parade with vehicles during the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II on the Red Square in Moscow.

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    Russia Launches Floating Nuclear Power Plant; It's Headed To The Arctic

    April 30, 2018


    The Akademik Lomonosov, which the Russian energy company Rosatom calls "the world's only floating nuclear power unit," left port on Saturday.

    A massive floating nuclear power plant is now making its way toward its final destination at an Arctic port, after Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom launched the controversial craft over the weekend. It's the first nuclear power plant of its kind, Russian officials say.

    Called the Akademik Lomonosov, the floating power plant is being towed at a creeping pace out of St. Petersburg, where it was built over the last nine years. It will eventually be brought northward, to Murmansk – where its two nuclear reactors will be loaded with nuclear fuel and started up this fall.

    From there, the power plant will be pulled to a mooring berth in the Arctic port of Pevek, in far northeast Russia. There, it will be wired into the infrastructure so it can replace an existing nuclear power installment on land.

    Critics of the plan include Greenpeace, which recently warned of a "Chernobyl on ice" if Russia's plans to create a fleet of floating nuclear power stations result in a catastrophe.

    Russian officials say the mandate of the Akademik Lomonoso is to supply energy to remote industrial plants and port cities, and to offshore gas and oil platforms.

    "The nuclear power plant has two KLT-40S reactor units that can generate up to 70 MW of electric energy and 50 Gcal/hr of heat energy during its normal operation," Rosatom said. "This is enough to keep the activity of the town populated with 100,000 people."

    It will take more than a year for the power plant to reach its new home port. The original plan had called for fueling the floating plant before it began that journey, at the shipyard in central St. Petersburg – but that was scuttled last summer, after concerns were raised both in Russia and in countries along the power plant's route through the Baltic Sea and north to the Arctic.

    Greenpeace in Russia, for instance, said it collected more than 11,000 signatures against the plan to put nuclear fuel into the plant while it floated along St. Petersburg's shores.

    When Rosatom announced its change of plans last summer, Rashid Alimov, coordinator of the Greenpeace Russia anti-nuclear project said that the organization "still considers the very concept of a floating nuclear power plant too dangerous and a senseless technological solution."

    Rosatom says it hopes the floating nuclear power plant will be online in 2019. It adds that the power plant "is designed with the great margin of safety that exceeds all possible threats and makes nuclear reactors invincible for tsunamis and other natural disasters."

    The idea for an offshore nuclear power plant has also been floated in the U.S. – or more specifically, off of New Jersey's coast. That plan arose in 1969, when the Public Service Electric & Gas Co. of New Jersey wanted to put a nuclear plant in the Atlantic Ocean, some 11 miles northeast of Atlantic City.

    To enact that plan, suppliers were lined up, and millions of dollars were spent; a mockup was even built. But popular resistance emerged against it, and as The New Yorker reported in 1975, "More than 50 construction & operating permits were required, & none yet issued."

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    Four Russian Spy Planes Fly Past Alaska — It's The Third Time This Month Russian Military Aircraft Have Done So

    September 21, 2018

    Russian military aircraft — everything from long-range bombers to advanced fighters to spy planes — have ventured close to Alaska three times this month, twice prompting US F-22 stealth fighters to intercept the aircraft.

    Two pairs of unidentified Russian maritime reconnaissance aircraft flew past northern Alaska Friday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) announced in a statement, noting that while the surveillance aircraft entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone, they remained in international airspace.

    The flight follows an alarming incident Thursday in which two unresponsive Russian Tu-160 bombers approached the British coastline, causing France and the UK to scramble fighters to intercept the supersonic aircraft.

    "Russian bombers probing UK airspace is another reminder of the very serious military challenge that Russia poses us today," Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said in a statement, adding, "We will not hesitate to continually defend our skies from acts of aggression."

    Japan encountered similar problems on Wednesday, when it sent fighters to intercept Russian fighter jets approaching Japanese airspace. The same thing happened earlier this month.

    Two Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers accompanied by Su-35 Flanker fighter jets approached western Alaska on Sept. 11, leading the US to dispatch two F-22s in response.

    A similar incident occurred on September 1, when two of the same type of bomber entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone south of the Aleutian Islands. Alaska-based NORAD F-22 fighters were sent out to deal with that situation as well.

    Following the first incident earlier this month, American defense officials speculated that the Russian bombers may have been practicing for possible cruise missile strikes on US missile defense systems in Alaska, although the true purpose of the flights is difficult to discern.

    While seemingly disconcerting, Russia does this sort of thing fairly regularly. Russian Tu-160 bombers flew past Alaska in August, and another pair of bombers did the same in May. These flights come at a time in which tensions between Moscow and Washington are on the rise.

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    Russia's Northernmost Base Projects Its Power Across Arctic

    May 18, 2021

    During the Cold War, Russia's Nagurskoye airbase was little more than a runway, a weather station and a communications outpost in the Franz Josef Land archipelago.

    It was a remote and desolate home mostly for polar bears, where temperatures plunge in winter to minus-42 Celsius (43 degrees below zero Fahrenheit) and the snow only disappears from August to mid-September.

    Now, Russia's northernmost military base is bristling with missiles and radar and its extended runway can handle all types of aircraft, including nuclear-capable strategic bombers, projecting Moscow's power and influence across the Arctic amid intensifying international competition for the region's vast resources.

    The shamrock-shaped facility — three large pods extending from a central atrium — is called the “Arctic Trefoil” and is painted in the white-red-and-blue of the national flag, brightening the otherwise stark vantage point on the 5,600-kilometer (3,470-mile) Northern Sea Route along Russia's Arctic coast. Other buildings on the Island, which is called Alexandra Land, are used for radar and communications, a weather station, oil storage, hangars and construction facilities.

    Russia has sought to assert its influence over wide areas of the Arctic in competition with the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway as shrinking polar ice from the warming planet offers new opportunities for resources and shipping routes. China also has shown an increasing interest in the region, believed to hold up to one-fourth of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited estimates that put the value of Arctic mineral riches at $30 trillion.

    Tensions between Russia and the West will likely loom large over Thursday's meeting of the Arctic nations’ foreign ministers in Reykjavik, Iceland, where Moscow is set to take a rotating chairmanship in the Arctic Council.

    “We have concerns about some of the recent military activities in the Arctic,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday after arriving in Iceland for talks with foreign ministers of the eight members of the Arctic Council. “That increases the dangers of accidents and miscalculations and undermines the shared goal of a peaceful and sustainable future for the region. So we have to be vigilant about that.”

    The Russian base, which sits about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of the geographic North Pole, was built using new construction technologies as part of Kremlin efforts to bolster the military amid spiraling tensions with the West following Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

    The following year, Russia submitted a revised bid for vast territories in the Arctic to the United Nations, claiming 1.2 million square kilometers (over 463,000 square miles) of Arctic sea shelf, extending more than 350 nautical miles (650 kilometers) from shore.

    While the U.N. pondered that claim and those from other nations, Russia has said it sees the Northern Sea Route as its “historically developed national transport corridor,” requiring authorization from Moscow for foreign vessels to navigate along it. The U.S. has dismissed Russia's claims of jurisdiction on parts of the route as illegitimate.

    Moscow has declared its intention to introduce procedures for foreign ships and assign Russian pilots for guidance along the route, which runs from Norway to Alaska.

    As part of that effort, Russia has rebuilt and expanded facilities across the polar region, deploying surveillance and defensive assets. A base in the similar trefoil shape and patriotic colors to the one in Nagurskoye is on Kotelny Island, between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea on eastern end of the shipping route, also with missiles and radar.

    Adm. Alexander Moiseyev, chief of Russia's Northern Fleet, said last week that Moscow has the right to set navigation rules along the shipping lane.

    “Practically the entire Northern Sea Route goes through Russia’s territorial waters or the country’s economic zone,” Moiseyev told reporters aboard the Peter the Great missile cruiser. “The complex ice conditions make it necessary to organize safe shipping, so Russia insists on a special regime of its use.”

    NATO is increasingly worried about the growing Russian military footprint in the Arctic, and Washington sent B-1 bombers to Norway this year.

    “Increased Russian presence, more Russian bases in the High North, has also triggered the need for more NATO presence, and we have increased our presence there with more naval capabilities, presence in the air, and not least, the importance of protecting transatlantic undersea cables transmitting a lot of data,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

    Moiseyev fretted about the U.S. military assets in Norway, saying it has led to an “increase of the conflict potential in the Arctic.”

    The Russian Foreign Ministry last week fumed at a U.S. nuclear submarine calling at a Norwegian port, saying it reflected what it described as "Oslo's course for the militarization of the Arctic.”

    On the sidelines of this week's Arctic Council meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is set to hold talks with Blinken -- an encounter intended to lay the groundwork for Putin's meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden planned for next month.

    Blinken has pointed out that with the Arctic warming at twice the rate of the rest of the global average, Russia has moved to increase its presence in the region.

    “Russia is exploiting this change to try to exert control over new spaces,” he said last month. “It is modernizing its bases in the Arctic and building new ones.”

    Blinken has rejected Russian calls to resume a military component of the Arctic Council. He also took Lavrov to task for comments earlier this week in which the Russian diplomat dismissed such criticism because the Arctic “is our territory, our land.”

    “We have to proceed all of us, including Russia, based on the rules, based on norms, based on the commitments that we’ve each made and also avoid statements that undercut those,” Blinken said.

    Since Putin visited the Nagurskoye base in 2017, it has been strengthened and expanded. It now houses a dedicated tactical group that operates electronic surveillance, air defense assets and a battery of Bastion anti-ship missile systems.

    A runway has been extended to accommodate all types of aircraft, including Tu-95 nuclear-capable strategic bombers, said Maj.-Gen. Igor Churkin, who oversees air force operations at the base.

    “The modernization of Arctic airfields significantly increases the potential of the Northern Fleet’s aviation to control the airspace in the area of the Northern Sea Route and allows to ensure its security,” he said.

    In March, the Russian military conducted drills at Nagurskoye with ground troops and a pair of MiG-31 fighters flying over the North Pole. The exercise also saw three nuclear submarines smash through the Arctic ice next to one another in a carefully planned show of force.

    On Monday, Lavrov rebuffed Western criticism of Russia’s Arctic expansion and bristled at what he described as Norway's push for a stronger NATO presence there.

    “We hear whining about Russia expanding its military activities in the Arctic,” Lavrov said. “But everyone knows that it’s our territory, our land. We bear responsibility for the Arctic coast to be safe, and everything our country does there is fully legitimate.”

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    Why The U.S. Should Worry About Russian And Chinese Ambition In The Arctic

    Washington is unprepared to meet the challenges posed by Moscow and Beijing

    May 6, 2021

    When Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meet face-to-face for the first time in Reykjavik, Iceland, later this month, the pair will have no shortage of issues to sort through.

    Biden’s first months in office have embraced a markedly “tough on Russia” posturing—in rhetoric if not always in action—and the Kremlin has taken note. Moscow, meanwhile, has repeatedly tested the patience and resolve of the new administration through its cyberattacks targeting foreign entities, its widely condemned imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, its attempted meddling in the November election, and its continued occupation of Crimea.

    While these high-profile points of contention could surface in the event that Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin convene in June, the topic of the day from May 16-18 is one that has long flown under the radar: the Arctic.

    Envoys from the U.S. will convene alongside the representatives of seven other Arctic states, indigenous peoples organizations, and non-Arctic observer countries to pass the Arctic Council chairmanship from Iceland to the Russian Federation. In true multilateral fashion, the group will collaborate on topics of mutual concern, including environmental protection, search and rescue plans, and access to resources.

    It’s a seemingly innocuous first meeting for two great powers with little else in common. But as climate change transforms the landscape of the Arctic’s permanent sea ice cover, widening waterways offer new arenas for economic competition and military confrontation. And in contrast to its dominance in both fronts worldwide, Washington is unprepared to meet the challenges posed by Moscow in the historically neglected but fast-emerging region.

    With 15,000 miles of Arctic coastline to Alaska’s 2,500, Russia’s conception of itself as the predominant Arctic superpower is a point of national pride that dates back to the Soviet era. Under Joseph Stalin, the country’s northern reaches hosted the regime’s most forbidding internment camps, serving the dual purpose of inspiring fear among perceived enemies of the state and extracting the terrain’s untapped resources through forced labor.

    The Arctic now accounts for at least 10 percent of Russia’s GDP and about 20 percent of its exports, so it’s fair to say that Putin’s aggressive maneuvers in the region—like stationing S-400 missile systems, reopening Soviet military bases, and strengthening airfields—are owed in part to the defense of critical infrastructure. But as Russia’s military exercises near NATO airspace pick up in both frequency and force, the Kremlin appears poised to project its dominance in the Arctic and surrounding regions.

    On a single day in March, for example, Moscow deployed about 10 fighter jets and patrol aircrafts to the Barents, Baltic, Norwegian, and North seas without warning.

    Russian flyovers in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone—a buffer zone protecting U.S. and Canadian airspace—have also picked up. Lt. Gen. David Krumm, head of Alaskan Command, told an Air Force Association online forum last week that the exercises cause “strain” on his units. “We have certainly seen an increase in Russian activity. We intercepted over 60 aircraft last year.”

    While Alaska will soon shelter the highest concentration of combat-ready, fifth-generation fighters in the nation with the arrival of 50 F-35A Lightning II fighter jets, its defensive capabilities have long focused on detecting and extinguishing threats from the Indo-Pacific. In the Arctic, more than six years after Russia began conducting large-scale snap military drills, the U.S. lags behind strategically and economically.

    Moscow’s regional supremacy is in no small part thanks to its Northern Fleet, which for nearly 90 years has safeguarded Russian interests in the Arctic seas through its powerful presence and increasingly advanced capabilities. Alongside the naval fleet are nearly four dozen icebreakers, necessary to clear the way for warships and commercial vessels. The U.S., by comparison, has two—only one of which is equipped to traverse polar conditions, and both of which are badly dated and prone to malfunctions.

    “Our ice-breaking capabilities are stretched to the very limit, and we have to hope that both of those icebreakers don’t have any further catastrophic mechanical failures,” said Heather Conley, senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A heavy icebreaker is in the works to be completed by 2025, but Conley noted that the project’s timeline is “ambitious.”

    Further complicating the U.S.’s position in the Arctic is China’s reach north. In a 2018 document outlining its Arctic policy, Beijing counterintuitively declared itself to be a “near-Arctic state” and argued that the region be treated as global commons. “The Arctic situation now goes beyond its original inter-Arctic States or regional nature, having a vital bearing on the interests of States outside the region and the interests of the international community as a whole, as well as on the survival, the development, and the shared future for mankind.”

    Using the language of climate change—the sincerity of which from the world’s biggest carbon emitter is up for debate—China opposes the Arctic States’ exclusive jurisdiction over the region. As a mere observer on the Arctic Council, China can voice its opinion on policy matters but has very little sway.

    Local enterprise and research are Beijing’s main inroads, which though not military in nature lay the groundwork for its future strategic influence. “They give China a space capacity and situational awareness. All of these things are useful should China decide at a future date that it needs a military presence in the Arctic,” Liselotte Odgaard, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, told The Dispatch.

    China also has its hand in numerous economic ventures across the Arctic, extending its global strategy of investing in infrastructure and energy to develop regional leverage.

    Two state-owned companies, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Silk Road Fund, hold roughly 30 percent stake in Yamal LNG—a massive liquified natural gas venture on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula. Chinese investors also plan to throw their funds behind a railway between Kirkenes, Norway and Finland; as well as a tunnel under the Baltic Sea connecting Helsinki and Tallinn, Estonia.

    China eyes ports, naval bases, and airports across the region, and it encourages collaboration in the areas of fishing, navigation, mining, and pipeline laying. These projects were initially welcomed, but many local entities are now experiencing buyer’s remorse as they catch wind of the Chinese government’s concealed ambitions in the Arctic.

    “Many local companies, municipalities, and decision-makers [will] probably continue to welcome Chinese investments as they would bring much needed jobs, business opportunities and finance to the remote areas,” the Arctic Institute’s Dr. Sanna Kopra told The Dispatch. “At the same time, potential investments in critical infrastructure can be expected to increasingly be scrutinised at national level, as security implications of China’s Arctic activities will no doubt be increasingly discussed and analysed in all the Arctic countries.”

    When Beijing threatened to pull a trade deal with the Danish-owned Faroe Islands if they didn’t adopt Huawei’s 5G network, for example, the story leaked to the press and the Danes rejected the blackmail. Unlike other countries entangled in China’s global investments, most Arctic countries can afford to push back on Beijing.

    “Even if the Arctic region is underdeveloped, it’s still part of well-off nations that could afford to invest in the Arctic if they gave it priority, so it’s harder for China to get in than it is in poorer parts of the world,” Odgaard said. “The Arctic is an integrated part of the West, except for—of course—Russia.”

    Because of this duality among Arctic countries, onlookers have long sounded the alarms of a Sino-Russian strategic partnership. While China wants to develop its hard power in the region, Russia needs Chinese capital to live up to its lofty ambitions and a Chinese presence to counter NATO.

    “China’s military has been involved in the last three Russian annual military exercises, of which there has been an Arctic component,” Conley told The Dispatch. “And we know the Russian Navy and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) have been interacting and doing Naval exercises since 2015.”

    “Just last month, Russia announced plans to connect the Northern Sea Route with China’s Maritime Silk Road, which would develop a new shipping channel from Asia to northern Europe. Meanwhile, China is already developing shipping lanes in the Arctic Ocean,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said of the emerging relationship in 2019. “Do we want the Arctic Ocean to transform into a new South China Sea, fraught with militarization and competing territorial claims?”

    But Moscow and Beijing are strange bedfellows. Russia’s claim to primacy in the Arctic is, by necessity, based in territorial sovereignty. Inviting a non-Arctic power to the table undermines that claim. And despite public cooperation to thumb the nose at the West, the Kremlin also harbors a deep suspicion of the Chinese government.

    But while the power of the bilateral partnership may be overstated, the United States’ regional capabilities are still severely outpaced by Russia.

    15,000 American service members—along with vessels, aircrafts, and armaments—convened this week in Alaska to run training exercises on the unfamiliar terrain. Other steps, like assessing the need for a deep water port and further developing unmanned technology to monitor the sea, could bolster the U.S.’s regional standing.

    “We are an Arctic country, and the strategic long-term concerns of the Arctic—in both Alaska, as well as areas of Canada and Europe where we provide defense—are important to us,” Cameron Carlson, founding director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management program at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, told The Dispatch. “We are lagging behind. More needs to be done in the Arctic.”

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