The Kremlin is strengthening Russian defenses in the Arctic, which President Vladimir Putin has described as a vital area for Russian interests after climate change made it easier to reach..
According to Defense News, citing officials and analysts from the Nordic countries, the ongoing Russian military reinforcements in the Arctic may motivate the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to give the region a special importance in their defense planning..
Defense News believes that “the warming of the Arctic leads to the opening of new fronts of competition in the resource-rich region – to the point of participation of China far from the region – which could extend to a security problem for the alliance.”
If this happens, NATO should have a conflict management strategy in place.
“There is a classic security dilemma that is building up in the Arctic,” Anna Wieslander, director of the Atlantic Council’s Northern Europe Program in Stockholm, told Defense News. It is not about placing more military forces and facilities there; It’s about getting a shared understanding of how to deal with that, and finding ways to move forward, if possible, with the Russians. ”
NATO member Norway, which has a common border with Russia, has warned of Russian military reinforcements in the nearby Kola Peninsula, home to Russia’s Northern Fleet, and at the same time has sought good-neighborly relations with regard to fisheries management and Coast Guard cooperation..
Although Oslo cut all defense ties with Russia after the latter annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, the Norwegian military headquarters and the Northern Fleet headquarters near Murmansk maintained a hotline.
“We are working on an open dialogue with Russia,” Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Pak-Jensen said at a hypothetical conference, held on March 19, organized by the Atlantic Council.
But Norwegian officials are increasingly afraid of Russian long-range missiles, new underwater weapons, and naval maneuvers closer to the coasts of NATO allies.
Defense News added, “They see Moscow returning to a version of the” shelter concept “in the Cold War era, a kind of strategy through which it seeks to secure water for Soviet nuclear submarines to launch a nuclear counterattack in the event of an atomic war.
“We cannot avoid the fact that the security landscape in the Arctic is getting tougher. We do not see Russia as a direct threat to Norway, but we are seeing more and more signals towards NATO and thus Norway as a member of NATO. ”
And last March, the commander of the Russian Submarine Fleet said in a meeting with Putin via video that three Russian nuclear ballistic missile submarines came to the surface simultaneously, smashing the Arctic ice during a training exercise..
Commander Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov said that the submarines had performed the complex maneuver “for the first time in the history of the Russian Navy,” adding that they had gone up in a radius of 300 meters and that the thickness of the ice that they smashed was 1.5 meters..
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