Russia is continuing with efforts to strengthen its military presence on the country’s Arctic coastline as shown in new satellite images provided by space technology company, Maxar.
CNN was able to acquire copies of the images which showed a continuing build-up of Russian military bases and hardware, as well as an underground facility believed to be a storage area for high-tech weapons.
Bombers and MiG31BM jets can be seen to the north of the military base, and a new radar system has been installed near the coast of Alaska. The red, white, and blue stripes of the Russian flag were also spotted in satellite photos released by Maxar.
“There’s clearly a military challenge from the Russians in the Arctic,” a senior State Department official told CNN. “That has implications for the United States and its allies, not least because it creates the capacity to project power up to the North Atlantic.”
US Official Expresses Concern
Pentagon spokesman Thomas Campbell claimed that the continued build-up of Russian military bases implies establishing control over areas in the Arctic that are soon to be ice-free.
He also reiterated that Russia has recently set up Quick Reaction Alert forces at two Arctic airfields to ensure immediate readiness against possible threats.
“Russia is refurbishing Soviet-era airfields and radar installations, constructing new ports and search-and-rescue centers, and building up its fleet of nuclear- and conventionally-powered icebreakers,” the official told CNN.
“It is also expanding its network of air and coastal defense missile systems, thus strengthening its anti-access and area-denial capabilities over key portions of the Arctic,” he added.
Russia Refuses to Comment
The foreign ministry of Russia has declined to comment on the country’s Arctic build-up or concerns voiced by US officials.
However, the country has long maintained that the motives behind the strengthening of its military presence in the Arctic region are “economic and peaceful.”
President Vladimir Putin continues to emphasize the importance of Russia’s technological superiority on the country’s Arctic coastline.
Last Friday, he lauded drills in which three nuclear-powered submarines broke through Arctic ice and surfaced simultaneously.
The president said that the country’s armed forces had proven its ability to operate even “in harsh northern environments.”