Home Contact Us  
   

Navy - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5135, 23 September 2016
 
Encirclement of the Arctic Circle: The Russian Military Buildup
Adarsh Vijay
Postgraduate Student, Madras Christian College, Chennai
 

The equations of geopolitical rivalry in the Arctic region are undergoing a paradigm shift with the ongoing military buildup by Russia. The Arctic has been accorded due importance as per the revised doctrine of the Russian Navy and Moscow is eyeing a permanent presence in the region to reclaim its historical dominance in the Arctic.  Russia’s ongoing attempts in this direction have become a cause for friction among the other stakeholders in the North Pole. The pressing issues that need to be addressed are: Why is Russia heading to the Arctic? How do the other players view the Kremlin’s move? Is the strategy restricted to regional implications or does it go beyond them? 

What’s in the Arctic?
Russia is one of the eight countries, along with the US, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, to have territory in the Arctic Circle. They are also the members of the Arctic Council, which was formed in 1996 as per the Ottawa Declaration. The oil and mineral resources under the seabed and the strategic importance of the region has so far guided the Kremlin’s policy in the Arctic. The race for the control of oceanic resources necessitates a strong military backing to guard the maritime interests in the northern waters. Moscow had already established the 45th Air Force and Air Defense Army for its Northern Fleet by the end of 2015. However, the present military outreach that gained momentum in the far north is a response to the increasing defense modernisation by the US and the Scandinavian countries in the recent past. The Kremlin seeks to have a strong foothold in the North Pole with a permanent military base name Arktichesky Trilistnik (Arctic Trefoil), which was set up in 2015. The base, which can house approximately 150 military personnel, is situated at the 80th parallel. They have also built another base named Northern Shamrock on the Kotelny Island in the East Siberian Sea at the 75th parallel. Besides the construction of new military infrastructures, the reopening of the various abandoned air strips and bases across the Franz Josef Land, New Siberian Islands, Novaya Zemlya and Severnaya Zemlya archipelagos is also underway.
 
Arctic: A Grand Strategy
What makes the Arctic region strategically important for Russia is primarily its geographical proximity to the North American continent. It ensures Moscow within a short-distance and an early strike capacity against the West and this strengthens its nuclear deterrence at large. The Kremlin is also enjoying better operational autonomy in the High North as compared to the fleets stationed at the Black and Baltic Seas as the maneuver of the Northern Fleet is undisturbed by the NATO members. Russia is currently focusing on the deployment of nuclear-powered icebreakers, additional submarines, patrol vessels, military aircrafts, anti-aircraft systems and intends to conduct unannounced military exercises in the Arctic Ocean. The secondary factor that pushes the Russians to the Arctic waters is the promising oil and mineral resources. Due to climate change there is expected to be a continuing retreat of ice from the ocean, which would make the seabed mining viable and cost-effective in due course.
Norway, a NATO member and a neighbor of Russia in the north-western border, is cautious of Russian advancements in the Arctic sphere. Besides Norway, other members of the Arctic Council also perceive Russia’s activities in the North Pole as a threat. Washington's reaction was predominantly naval oriented in terms of the dispatch of submarines and icebreakers across the Arctic. An exclusive stealth-aircraft fleet is also under process for the High North in order to meet the challenges of the prevailing geopolitical conundrum.
 
The Road Ahead
The Kremlin intends to take the Arctic policy forward as a global strategy. The regional repercussions, as projected by Russia, are just a cover to hide the grand reverberations that are yet to unfold. Hence, an analysis of Moscow’s actions in the Arctic is just the tip of the iceberg. The High North is a significant element of Russia’s foreign and security complex, which is being built upon the Cold War legacy. Russia’s traditional need for superiority in the international system with immense control over natural resources, supported by an unparalleled military supremacy, lies behind the whole game. Thus, the Arctic Circle is a great catalyst for Moscow to alter and tilt the balance of power in its favor. Nevertheless, the escalating US presence in the Arctic acts as a deterrent against the Russian aggressions and neither does Russia seem interested in engaging in a direct confrontation in the near future. Though cooperation in place of competition is an option that can be explored, however, pragmatism is far more distant than dreams. The emerging trends in the Arctic are highly unpredictable which make a strategic forecast difficult, if not impossible. However, the only optimism that remains at the core of the dynamics in the region is the sustaining self-restraint in terms of abstinence from an armed rivalry at present.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Russia’s Search for New Ground in Pakistan

Iskander-M in Kaliningrad: The Changing Equations of Deterrence

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.