According to Russia’s deputy prime minister, the Arctic has an almost unparalleled level of political and spiritual importance for the Russian people.
In a succinct tweet, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said “the Arctic is a Russian Mecca.”
Rogozin tweeted the comment during a visit to various locations within the Arctic Circle, a trip for which the North Pole is his ultimate destination. His first stop was in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, which under a special treaty grants Russians equal residential and commercial rights as Norwegians.
Norway has demanded an explanation from Russia as to what Rogozin was doing in Svalbard. Since the Russian annexation of Crimea last year, Norway has placed Rogozin on a sanction list that bars him from travelling to Norwegian territory.
Since Russia adopted an updated military doctrine in December 2014, the Kremlin has placed added emphasis on development and militarization of the entire Arctic region.
Moscow has undertaken a construction blitz across the Arctic to establish military superiority in the region. Russia is constructing ten Arctic search-and-rescue stations, 16 deepwater ports, 13 airfields, and ten air-defence radar stations across its Arctic coast.
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.
H/t Ian Bateson
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