Russia Announces Air Defense Buildup in Arctic

The Russian defense minister this week announced a new fighter squadron and surface-to-air missile air defense regiment will stand up in the country’s Arctic military command by the end of the year. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, speaking Aug. 31 during a panel with other senior Russian military officials, said the enhancement is necessary to protect the development of the “northern sea route” and Russian interests in the Arctic, reported the state-run news arm Sputnik. In April, the Russian government declared it would invest some $4.3 billion in developing its Arctic presence between now and 2020, including the buildup of a command and control system that will link Arctic outposts and installations with military units on Russia’s mainland. Russia has been expanding its military activity since the 2014 Crimea crisis, including large-scale snap drills that stretch into the Arctic. The announcement comes as President Barack Obama visited Alaska this week to unveil several Arctic safety and security initiatives.