Russia is deploying advanced aerial weapon systems to the Arctic

Tu 160 Arcticvia The AviationistA Russian bomber flying over the Arctic.

In continuation of a militarizing trend, Russia will deploy advanced aerial weapons systems to the Arctic, according to the deputy commander of Russia’s Aerospace Defence Forces.

Speaking on June 20, Deputy Commander Kirill Makarov told RIA Novosti that the Kremlin will deploy fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missile systems, and radar systems to islands off the Russian coast in the Arctic.

“This is all done to the Russian Federation to defend its interests around the perimeter of our state, but also the interests in the Arctic,” Makarov said according to a translation done by Google.

The deployment of advanced aerospace technology to the Arctic is in keeping with a Russian drive to militarize the region as part of a new military strategy that was signed into place by the Kremlin in December 2014. In addition to the Arctic, Russia has placed particular emphasis on militarizing the Crimean peninsula and the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.

Since the new military doctrine has gone into effect, Moscow has undertaken a militarization and construction blitz throughout the Arctic. Russia is constructing ten Arctic search-and-rescue stations, 16 deepwater ports, 13 airfields, and ten air-defence radar stations across its Arctic coast.

Once completed, this construction will “permit the use of larger and more modern bombers,” Mark Galeotti, a New York University professor specializing on Russia, writes for The Moscow Times. “By 2025, the Arctic waters are to be patrolled by a squadron of next-generation stealthy PAK DA bombers.”

Simultaneously, Moscow has created Joint Strategic Command North (JSCN) from components of the Northern Fleet in order to maintain a permanent military presence in the region. It is likely that this command will become a fifth Russian military district.

The command will ultimately feature an air-defence division, two Arctic mechanised brigades, a naval infantry brigade, a coastal defence missile system, and the placement of missile regiments in outlying archipelagos in the Arctic Ocean.

h/t Aki Heikkinen

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