Russia to build controversial artificial islands in arctic for gas industry

A Qatari-flagged LNG tanker crosses through the Suez Canal. Photo: Reuters

 

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signs agreement on construction, though analysts puzzled as the location is far from natural gas field

Russia plans to build four artificial islands in the arctic Barents Sea to serve the natural gas industry, though analysts are puzzled by the location as it’s far from a gas field, while environmentalists warn of pollution dangers.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed an agreement on June 17 to build the islands in Kola Bay of the Barents Sea at an estimated cost of $420 million. They are expected to come into use from 2020. Continue reading

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warns of Russian ‘Checkmate’ in Arctic

One thing you can fault the article for is that it assumes Russia is going to let the United States, or any rival for that matter, into the area it now has on lockdown. The United States plays fair for the most part, Russia doesn’t. Playing by the rules puts you into the lesser of equals category. This is why Russia breaks treaties without conscience. This is strategy America has failed to understand in regards to its enemies such as Russia, China, Iran et al, over and over again.

If America were to start constructing new ice breakers to even reach the areas where Russia has, you’re looking at a five-to-ten year planning, not including deployment.

Having said this, one thing the article hit the nail on the head: Checkmate.

It’s too late for America. If it wants the Arctic bad enough, it now has to go to war.

 

Photo credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

 

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.

Paul Zukunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, warned Russia was 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. Continue reading

Russia’s Military Buildup in Arctic Has U.S. Watching Closely

Soldiers of the Arctic motorized rifle brigade of Russia’s Northern Fleet took a stand near APCs during military exercise in Alakyrtti, Murmansk region, Russia, April 25, 2017. Dmitry Kozlov / AP

 

ALAKURTTI BASE, RUSSIAN ARCTIC — An RPG shell whistles towards its target, exploding in a ball of fire just as a group of soldiers in white fatigues, zip past on skis, bullets flying from their white rifles.

It was all part of a training exercise by Russia’s newly formed 80th Motor Rifle Arctic Brigade, which was established two years ago as part of the Kremlin’s bid for dominance in the Arctic. The soldiers are trained to operate in some of the least hospitable climates in the world — where temperatures can drop to -40 — using tanks, military hardware and even reindeer sleds to get around in the frozen terrain. Continue reading

Russia unveils arctic base capable of housing nuke bombers

Russia unveils arctic base capable of housing nuke bombers

Wide view of Russia’s secret arctic base with two guard dogs, Source: Russian MoD

 

On Tuesday Russia unveiled parts of its top-secret arctic base capable of housing nuclear bombers and advanced anti-ICBM systems

(WASHINGTON, DC) The Russian Defense Ministry has provided a glimpse into its state of the art Arctic air defense base, offering an interactive tour of the facility known as the Arctic Shamrock – the northernmost permanent installation of the Russian armed forces.

“With the help of the web application, Defense Ministry website http://mil.ru/files/files/arctic/Arctic.html visitors will be able to interactively assess the convenient and ergonomic modular layout of the base, which allows the Russian military to perform service and combat tasks in the hardest natural and climatic conditions of the Arctic,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Russian officials say they may equip the base with MiG-31 fighters, military jets designed to shoot down long-range bombers, or the SU-34, a frontline bomber capable of deploying nuclear weapons.  Continue reading

Fracking Comes to the Arctic in a New Alaska Oil Boom

Alaska’s North Slope region, including the National Petroleum Reserve (NPRA), Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAPS). US Geological Survey/Wikipedia

 

Arctic lands and waters hold irresistible allure for global oil companies. Despite opposition from environmental groups and President Obama’s 2016 ban on drilling in federal Arctic waters, exploration in Alaska has revealed massive new volumes of oil. The Conversation

This comes at a time of low oil prices, when many observers felt the Arctic would remain off limits. Alaska has proved precisely the opposite. Although it has gone largely unnoticed outside the industry, foreign firms are partnering with American companies to pursue these new possibilities. I expect this new wave of Arctic development will help increase US oil production and influence in world oil markets for at least the next several decades. Continue reading

Russia to modernize weaponry for Crimea, Arctic forces

 

The Kremlin plans to modernize weaponry and equipment issued to Russian forces in Crimea and the Arctic regions.

Russian defense officials disclosed the move during a Defense Ministry Board meeting in Moscow on Wednesday. Discussions focused on an armament program set to take place from 2018 through 2025. Continue reading

Russia Warns Norway over Missile Defense Plans

 

Russia has warned Norway over consequences of joining NATO ballistic missile defense (BMD) plans. According to Russian ambassador to Oslo, Moscow will retaliate. Norway’s possible accession to NATO’s missile shield «will be a new factor that will be considered in our strategic planning as the emergence of an additional problem in the Arctic region», Teimuraz Ramishvili told the Norwegian state media network NRK. Continue reading

Geostrategy: Russia takes the Arctic seriously, U.S. has only two icebreakers

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Polar Star icebreaker. / Coast Guard photo

 

Russia, with nearly 40 icebreakers, is dominating the battle for the Arctic over the United States, which has just two of the vessels, a key Congressional leader said.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Coast Guard and maritime transportation, said he will press Congress and the White to increase the Coast Guard’s budget, which stands at $10 billion. Continue reading

Putin’s Russia in biggest Arctic military push since Soviet fall

Atomic icebreakers Russia and Yamal are seen moored at Atomflot (Rosatomflot), the operator of Russia’s nuclear icebreaker fleet, base in the Arctic port of Murmansk, Russia December 22, 2011. Picture taken December 22, 2011. REUTERS/Andrei Pronin

 

MURMANSK, Russia (Reuters) – The nuclear icebreaker Lenin, the pride and joy of the Soviet Union’s Arctic great game, lies at perpetual anchor in the frigid water here. A relic of the Cold War, it is now a museum.

But nearly three decades after the Lenin was taken out of service to be turned into a visitor attraction, Russia is again on the march in the Arctic and building new nuclear icebreakers.

It is part of a push to firm Moscow’s hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the United States, and Norway as well as newcomer China. Continue reading

Putin urges Russian nuclear weapons boost

A Russian Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile is driven through Red Square in Moscow in May 2009 (AFP Photo/DMITRY KOSTYUKOV)

 

Moscow (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for the country to reinforce its military nuclear potential and praised the army’s performance in its Syria campaign.

In a speech that recapped military activities in 2016, Putin said the army’s preparedness has “considerably increased” and called for continued improvement that would ensure it can “neutralise any military threat”.

“We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defence systems,” the Kremlin strongman said. Continue reading

Russia’s Arctic Dreams Have Chinese Characteristics

The most significant geophysical event on our planet since the end of the ice age is taking place today—the opening of the Arctic. As the High North maritime environment warms, the Arctic Ocean’s abundant energy, minerals, fish stocks, and other natural resources are becoming increasingly accessible, while new potential maritime routes promise to reduce shipping times and costs and accelerate ties between major commercial centers. These new opportunities for energy development, natural resources extraction, and shipping suggest that the region risks becoming an arena of intense competition, tension, and potentially even confrontation, not only between the United States and its two near-peer strategic competitors—China and Russia—but also among other Asia-Pacific states with observer status in the Arctic Council. Continue reading

Canada’s Military–A Shameful Shadow of Its Once Glorious Past

Caption: Destroyer HMCS Athabaskan (iStock.com/OlegAlbinsky)

 

Canada’s military services can no longer defend the nation’s borders—much less its citizens. According to the new commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, Vice Adm. Ron Lloyd, Canada’s last destroyer, hmcs Athabaskan, will be retired from service in the spring of 2017, leaving the nation to rely on its allies for defense for at least the next seven years. Over the previous decades, Athabaskan and other similar vessels provided the capabilities of command and control for both the Royal Canadian Navy and the area air defense. By next spring, the Navy will be left with only 12 frigates, 12 coast defense vessels and 4 submarines. Canada will need to rely on the United States for its area air defense.

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Russia Continues to Dominate Arctic as US Struggles to Procure Icebreakers

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On June 16, Russia launched the massive nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika, which displaces 33,500 tons. (Photo: Ruslan Shamukov/TASS /Newscom)

 

The Arctic is shaping up to be one of the most strategically important regions in the 21st century. However, the United States has fallen far behind in building the specialized ships necessary to traverse the region’s treacherous waters.

On June 10, Russia launched its first new military icebreaker in half a century. The Ilya Muromets, a diesel icebreaker displacing 6,000 tons, will now begin supporting Russian naval operations in the Arctic.

Just days later, the Ilya Muromets’ launch was upstaged when Russia floated the largest icebreaker in history. The nuclear-powered Arktika displaces 33,500 tons and is the first of three planned hulls.

Russia even plans on adding two icebreaking patrol ships armed with cruise missiles by 2020.

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Russian Navy to Create Special Icebreaker Fleet to Protect Interests in Arctic

The Russian Navy will create a special group of icebreakers for the protection of islands along the country’s Arctic coast, the Russian Izvestia newspaper reports.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The new fleet of military icebreakers will also likely include ice-class ships capable of carrying artillery and missile weaponry, the newspaper said on Friday.

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Beyond the EU

BERLIN/NUUK/REYKJAVÍK/TÓRSHAVN (Own report) – Whereas the Brexit has been met with wholesale rejection by the German and other EU member states’ establishments, it was positively assessed in the little noticed countries of Northwest Europe, growing in strategic importance. Iceland’s president recently invited Great Britain to enhance its cooperation with the “triangle of non-EU countries,” meaning Iceland, and the autonomous regions Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which are part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Greenland left the European Community (EC) in 1982; the Faroe Islands have never been members and Iceland officially withdrew its application for EU membership in 2015. All three countries refuse nuclear weapons and NATO’s missile defense shield on their territories, while showing a greater openness towards Russia than most other western countries. Iceland and particularly Greenland have been growing in their strategic importance with the impending opening of Arctic sea routes and exploitation of Arctic natural resources. German experts have already suggested inciting Greenland to secede from Denmark. This would offer Germany greater influence on Greenland and consequently on the Arctic’s political, economic and military affairs.

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