Russia views Arctic as a potential area of future conflict and it is building up its military in response
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Russian Militarization of the Arctic. The mili- tary is an important dimension of Moscow’s Arctic push. The policy calls for creating “general purpose military formations drawn from the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation” as well as “other troops and military formations [most importantly, border units] in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, capable of ensuring security under various military and political circumstances.”28 These formations will be drawn from the armed forces and from the “power ministries” (e.g., the Federal Security Service, Border Guard Service, and Internal Ministry). Above all, the policy calls for a coast guard to patrol Russia’s Arctic waters and estuaries.
Russia views the High North as a major staging area for a potential nuclear confrontation with the United States and has steadily expanded its military presence in the Arctic since 2007. This has included resuming air patrols over the Arctic, including stra- tegic bomber flights.29 During 2007 alone, Russian bombers penetrated Alaska’s 12-mile air defense zone 18 times.30
The Russian Navy is expanding its presence in the Arctic for the first time since the end of the Cold War, increasing the operational radius of the North- ern Fleet’s submarines. Russia is also reorienting its military strategy to meet threats to the country’s interests in the Arctic, particularly with regard to its continental shelf.31
Russia has made no secret of their ambitious and aggressive plans for dominating the Arctic region and its resources. U.S. inattention to their advances could pose a long-term strategic threat to U.S. national security.