Moscow: The chief of Russian northern fleet warned, “In the last few years, NATO has increased the number of war exercises in the Arctic region. These exercises include nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers and special forces as well as advanced modern weapons also have been used. The extent of the exercises has been widened and it clearly indicates the intent of NATO and the member countries of major military deployments in the region. If this deployment goes on increasing in this manner, a conflict could be sparked between NATO and Russian forces.’
The icebergs in the completely ice clad Arctic region have been melting and new trade routes have been opening. At the same time, studies have claimed that this region has large deposits of natural gas, oil and other ores. Therefore, activities to dominate both the trade routes and the natural resources in the Arctic have been initiated. Over the last decade, Russia has attempted to strengthen its claim on the Arctic with setting up of research projects, oil companies and even military bases.
However, the Russian claim is now being challenged by the United States, Canada and even the European countries. Only six months ago, the US Congress demanded that the defence department should set up a military base in the Arctic. The demand instructed that the US defence department should initiate fresh movements for a military base, with the help of Army Corps, Coast Guard and marine management department. It also warned that the military unit along with radar and missiles should be deployed at this base.
On the other hand, countries like Canada, Norway, Sweden and Finland have been trying to open a front against Russia in the Arctic. Countries like Sweden and Finland, who are not members of NATO, have started assisting the NATO on the Arctic issue and have even participated in the NATO war exercises. A few months ago, the participation of the NATO member and non-member countries in the war exercises held with an initiative from the United States and Norway had been significant. A US aircraft carrier also had participated in these exercises.
Vice Admiral Alexander Moiseyev, chief of the Russian Northern Fleet expressed deep regret over the activities of the United States and the NATO member countries. Russian officials alleged that the NATO member countries have failed to recognise the Russian interest in the Arctic and have been forcing Russia to cooperate by exerting pressure. Vice Admiral Alexander Moiseyev warned that Russia would not tolerate the same and is fully aware of its own military might in the region.
A few months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced an ambitious Arctic Plan, envisaging nuclear icebreakers, military bases and building of new commercial trade ports. Expeditious moves are being made for implementation of this Arctic Plan and a Russian warship in the icebreaker category has been sent to the Arctic. Following this, it has been indicated that the advanced S-400 air defence system will be deployed on all the military bases in the Arctic.