Satellite pictures appearing to show Russia beefing up its military presence in the Arctic have emerged just days after three of Moscow’s nuclear ballistic missile submarines crashed through the polar region in a show of strength.
The photographs show the Russian military has been rebuilding and expanding many facilities across the Arctic in recent years.
From revamping runways to deploying additional surveillance and air defence assets, the satellite photographs show a constant endeavour to expand Moscow’s capabilities in the polar region.
Underground storage facilities have also been pictured and experts worry they’ll be used for the Poseidon 2M39 torpedo, a nuclear powered underwater drone that can be launched from a submarine and carry nuclear warheads.
Satellite photographs provided to CNN by space technology firm Maxar also reveal military jets and bombers as well as new radar systems near Alaska.
It comes only days after three of the Russian Navy’s nuclear ballistic missile submarines crashing through the Arctic ice within feet of each other in a clear display of strength.
Navy chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin the exercise featured three nuclear submarines concurrently breaking through the Arctic ice and warplanes flying over the North Pole.
The exercises were conducted around Alexandra Land, an island that’s part of the Franz Josef Land archipelago where the military has recently built a base.
Moscow has prioritised beefing up its military presence in the Arctic region, which is supposed to hold up to a quarter of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas.
Vladimir Putin has in the past cited estimates that put the value of Arctic mineral wealth at £22 trillion.
Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been seeking to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, as shrinking polar ice opens new opportunities for tapping resources and opening new shipping lanes.
The new satellite photographs show Russia has been making improvements to their old Cold War bases as well as building new facilities on the Kola Peninsula near the city of Murmansk.
And a senior US State Department official informed CNN that there’s clearly a military challenge from the Russians in the Arctic. That has implications for the United States and its allies, not least because it generates the potential to project power up to the North Atlantic.
It appears that the Russians have reactivated old Soviet arctic bases, and they’re upgrading military equipment to operate there.
They have the largest armada of nuclear icebreakers in the world and their troops are completely acclimatised to sub-zero temperatures, so there’s not much the US could do even if they wanted to, and it seems that the poisoned dwarf is playing with his toys again.