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Northern Fleet - Arctic Flotilla

The Kremlin-led nationalist rhetoric on the Arctic is mainly for domestic audiences. It is part of the symbolic arsenal used by the Putin regime to legitimate itself: references chosen from the Stalinist myth of the Arctic peoples heroism and industrial prowess in hostile environments are still well-received among some parts of the Russian population. The Arctic is a virgin land on which it is easy to project, albeit difficult to realize, dreams of great power.

Russia will expand its presence in the Arctic to ensure the safety of its citizens, President Vladimir Putin said in march 2018. While Moscow does not seek to intimidate anyone, it will continue to develop the vital region. We wont threaten anybody, but, using our advantages, of a territorial nature in this case, we will ensure the security of Russia and its citizens. In this sense, the Arctic region is extremely important for Russia, the president stated in a new documentary titled Putin. The film was made by VGTRK reporter Andrey Kondrashov and shared on social media.

Moscow had already reestablished itself firmly in the Arctic, but other countries, including the US, are also seeking to expand their military presence there. US Ohio-class submarines, capable of carrying 24 Trident nuclear missiles, are very active in Norwegian Sea. The estimated time of arrival for such munitions from the Norwegian Sea to Moscow is only around 15 minutes, the president added.

Putin also reaffirmed his commitment to maintaining and expanding Russias Arctic nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet, which is vital for both military and civilian use. The icebreakers accompany softer ships through the ice along Russias northern coasts, as well as guide them into the mouths of large rivers. Not a single [other] country in the world has a nuclear icebreaker fleet. The Soviet Union used to have it, Russia has it, and we have plans to develop a powerful new-generation icebreaker fleet, Putin said.

Arctic development is a key priority for Moscow. Russia already derives about 11% of its GDP, and close to a quarter of its foreign experts, from its Arctic territories. There are several reasons for Moscow's careful attention to Arctic development. First, is the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources from the Polar region. Second is the issue, associated with climate change, of the possible reorientation of global transportation routes from the south to the north, including via the so-called Northern Sea Route. Finally, there is the issue of the Arctic's role in providing the northern hemisphere with clean drinking water.

In 2013, the president approved the so-called Strategy for the Development of the Russian Arctic Area. That program saw the adoption of the relevant legislation on the region's socio-economic development up to the year 2020 (now amended up to the year 2025), and the creation of a special body charged with coordinating regional development the State Commission for the Development of the Arctic.

The return of the Armed Forces to the region is one of the keys to the success of the third push into the Arctic. In December 2014, United Strategic Command 'North' was established to manage the military forces and assets in the area from Murmansk to Anadyr. In addition to its role as defender of Russia's borders, the military serves to provide security in the event of natural and man-made emergencies, and is what the portal calls a system-forming factor for the development of local cities and settlements. Factually, the military is also one of the main suppliers of new technology for civilian life (from clothing fit for the Arctic to footwear, medicines and machinery).

Russia's first efforts to develop its Arctic territories began in the 19th century, although according to Expert Online, the first wave of industrial-scale development started in the 1930s, when a series of large-scale projects were started, including coal mining at Vorkuta, Komi Republic, the extraction of non-ferrous metals at Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk Region, and the 'Transpolar Mainline' an ambitious but never completed railway hoped to stretch across northern Siberia.

The second wave of development began about two decades later, from the 1960s and the 1980s, and this led to large-scale geological exploration of the macro-region, the creation of a powerful center for natural gas production in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, and the organization an integrated system of defense of the country's northern borders, from Murmansk in the west to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the east.

During the Cold War, the Arctic Region was patrolled underwater and from the air. Waters under the Arctics ice was an active arena of the Cold War. There were American, British and Soviet submarines. Of course, there was also aerial surveillance. There were specially designed aircraft, including the Tu-142 and the Il-38. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union those activities were significantly reduced. Russia is currently reviving the activities launched back in the Soviet era.

The Russian Northern Fleet will be on regular underwater and aerial combat alert in different parts of the Arctic Ocean. The task was assigned for the fleet for the second half of 2017, Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Nikolai Evmenov told journalists 01 January 2017. "We will establish our presence on a regular basis in different areas of the Arctic Ocean, including underwater and in the air. We will provide security of navigation along the Northern Sea Route," the commander said. He added that Russia will also continue the exploration of the Arctic Region.

Russia's first ice-capable patrol ship to be deployed to the Arctic will be laid down this year and is planned to be commissioned in 2019 at the latest, the Russian Defense Ministry's Chief of the State Defense Order Implementation Department I rank Capt. Andrei Vernigora said 10 June 2016. "This autumn, ice-capable patrol vessels will be laid down, the contract has been signed. The first vessel will be commissioned in 2018 or 2019," Vernigora said during a launching ceremony for Ilya Muromets, Russia's first new icebreaker in 40 years.

The Ilya Muromets supportive ice-breaker is expected to enter service with the Russian Navy in 2017. It will be used to navigate warships and vessels in the Arctic waters. The first Russian patrolling ice-breaker will be also laid down this year. Russia has never had vessels of this type in its navy. The ship will carry heavy artillery and missile systems.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 17:22:22 ZULU