Russia’s policies towards a changing Arctic

The true scale of Russia’s military activities in the Arctic have been revealed in a new policy paper from The Henry Jackson Society’s Russia Studies Centre. “Russia’s Policies towards a Changing Arctic“ describes Russia’s dramatic militarisation of the Arctic since 2014, as well as its attempts to exploit the region’s natural resources and prepare for possible conflict.

The report recommends that the UK urgently encourages NATO to adopt an Arctic strategy and ensure a common approach to the region’s security challenges. The research reveals how Russia: has created new Arctic brigades; commissioned a new icebreaker fleet; re-opened Soviet-era military bases; and, deployed a sophisticated missile early-warning radar in the Arctic; has established a new military district – Arctic Joint Strategic Command – to coordinate all its activities in the Arctic; is restoring aerodromes in the Arctic, including the Rogachyovo airfield on Novaya Zemlya, and airfields in Tiksi, Vorkuta, Alykel, and Anadyr, and is building the massive ‘Arctic Trefoil’ military base; has increased the number and intensity of military exercises in the region, including the March 2015 snap military exercise in the Arctic in which the Northern Fleet was called to “full combat readiness”, 38,000 ground troops were mobilised, and 110 aircraft, 41 warships, and 15 submarines were involved; is regularly invading the sovereign airspace of other Arctic countries. For example, in 2014, Norway intercepted 74 Russian warplanes conducting air patrols on its coast – up from 58 interceptions in 2013.

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