US Training Exercise Carried Out Near Arctic Circle As Russian Military Presence Reaches Levels Not Seen Since Cold War

DVIDS, Senior Airman Kelly Willett/Newsflash

This is the moment the US military carries out a training mission from a base near the arctic circle in Alaska as Russia increases its local presence to levels not seen since the Cold War.

The training exercise was carried out by the 176th Wing from the King Salmon Air Base located in the US state of Alaska near the arctic circle last Wednesday (14th April).

The exercises involved practising mid-flight refuelling, search and rescue operations and strategic airlift operations.

DVIDS, Senior Airman Kelly Willett/Newsflash

Tensions between the United States and Russia over control over the arctic have been heating up in recent years as climate change opens up new potential waterways for trade as well as access to natural resources.

According to the Warsaw Institute Think Tank, Russia hopes to take advantage of the melting ice to expand its influence in and control the Northern Sea trading route.

If the trading were expanded, it would potentially create an alternative route for good moving between Europe and Asia to the Suez Canal which hit headlines last month when it was blocked by a beached cargo ship.

Satellite images obtained by CNN showed that Russia was amassing a big military presence in the Arctic near Alaska.

DVIDS, Senior Airman Kelly Willett/Newsflash

According to the Arctic Institute, in recent years Russia has built 475 new military bases in the Arctic and 16-deep water ports at levels not seen since the Cold War.

The institute added: “The probability of a significant military clash between the United States and Russia is heightened by the frequent encounters of NATO-operated and Russian vessels “

Amongst the weapons that the Russian military is reportedly deploying in the arctic is the infamous Poseidon 2M39 torpedo.

According to Russian media outlet IZ, the torpedo is powered by a nuclear reactor and designed to sneak past US radar.

Upon detonation, the weapon would create a radioactive tsunami inundating US city with radioactive water.

DVIDS, Senior Airman Kelly Willett/Newsflash

Vice Admiral Nils Andreas Stensones, The Head of Norwegian Intelligence, told CNN news that the Poseidon is a “very real” threat.

He added it was “part of the new type of nuclear deterrent weapons, and it is in a testing phase”.

He continued: “But it’s a strategic system and it’s aimed at targets … and has an influence far beyond the region in which they test it currently.”

Alexey Muraviev, a professor at Australia’s Curtain University, told Business Insider that: “What is happening in Russia’s Western regions is mirrored in Russia’s increased activity in the Far East.”

Muraviev was referring to the building of tensions in Russia’s west where in recent weeks the Kremlin has been accused of building up its army on Ukraine’s border in what some experts fear is a prelude to an invasion.

John Kirby, Pentagon Press Secretary, commented on Russia’s presence in the arctic saying: “Obviously we’re watching this, and, as I said before, we have national-security interests there that we know … we need to protect and defend.”

DVIDS, Senior Airman Kelly Willett/Newsflash

The Norwegian government which has a special interest in the security of the arctic circle due to its proximity has reacted to Russia’s military ambitions by planning its biggest military exercise in the region since the cold war.

General Eirik Kristoffersen, head of the Norwegian Armed Forces, claims that the exercise codenamed “Cold Response 2022” will involve 40,000 troops and is the largest operation of its type since the 1980s.

The Arctic Institute believes that: “It is safe to say that the current geopolitical reading of the global order and that of the Arctic region points towards a murky, unstable, and conflictual future”.

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