The Russian military is investing in a programme of modernisation across the region, building new bases and upgrading existing ones. The video shows the Northern Clover facility in Yakutia, which became operational four years ago and which is manned by 250 troops. The base supports military operations on Kotelny Island, located in the Laptev Sea off Russia’s northern coast, and is also home to the Temp military airfield as well as a radar station which can detect approaching aircraft from long distances away.
Both Northern Clover and Arctic Trefoil, the country’s most northerly base located just over 1,000 miles west on the Franz Josef Land archipelago, are equipped with closed life-support system technology, allowing them to operate autonomously without troops having to brave the challenging Arctic conditions.
Northern Clover can operate without being resupplied for an entire year.
Last week, Russia staged a series of live-fire artillery drills at combat training ranges in the Barents Sea, further stoking up already heightened tensions with the West.
The large amphibious assault ship Alexander Otrakovsky, which is based with the Kola Flotilla of the Russian Northern Fleet’s all-arms forces, carried out the military exercises at combat training ranges in the remote Arctic waters, the fleet’s press office confirmed.
It said: “The combat teams of the amphibious assault ship sharpened their skills while conducting a sea battle with a notional warship and suppressing a fire pocket on the coast.”
The artillery crews also destroyed a “notional floating mine”, the statement added.
A threat assessment written by Pavel K Baev of Oslo’s Peace Research Institute and published in the Journal of Slavic Military Studies in January said Russia’s aggressive approach to the Arctic should not be underestimated.
His report concluded: “Russia’s Arctic policy keeps going along two poorly compatible tracks of expanding military activities and committing to international cooperation.
“Exaggerated threat assessments are typically advanced to justify the strongly set strategic priority for sustaining investments in building up the military capabilities, including nuclear forces.
“The option for developing cooperation has become unprofitable due to the sanctions regime, but its main downside is that it denies Russia the opportunity to exploit the perceived and highly valued position of power it holds in the Barents region.
“Russia has the capabilities and can create opportunities for forceful proactive advances in the High North, and caution is not a behaviour pattern that can be expected from an essentially authoritarian regime that is threatened by domestic discontent and external pressure.”
Writing for the Financial Express website today, Rajan Kumar, an Associate Professor at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said: “The Arctic is emerging as one of the critical navigation routes to connect East and Southeast Asia with Europe and the Americas.
“Once the economic and navigational interests are recognised, the military cannot be far away.
“Given its geography, history and the extended coastline, Russia has a genuine claim over the Arctic, and the issue of navigation needs to be resolved multilaterally.
“For Russia, the melting ice caps, a demand for connectivity between Europe and Asia and the untapped resources have provided a unique opportunity in the Arctic.
There seems to be no immediate solution to the issues of navigation, de-militarisation and global warming.”