Russia to station military unit in the Arctic by 2018
Published 22/10/2015 | 13:51
Russia's defence minister says the country will have a military unit permanently stationed in the Arctic by 2018.
The Kremlin announced its intentions to bring its military to the Arctic in 2008 but has yet to station troops there.
Sergei Shoigu told Russian news agencies that the "creation and arming" of the Arctic military unit should be completed by 2018. He said Russia is building several new bases in the Arctic as well as rebuilding six Soviet-era air bases there.
Russian officials have previously stated that the air base facilities are essential for protecting shipping routes that link Europe with the Pacific region across the Arctic Ocean.
"We are not hiding this from anyone. We have practically finished building bases on the Novosibirsk Archipelago and on Kotelny island," Mr Shoigu said, adding that modern military technology was "necessary for guarding borders" in the Arctic.
Mr Shoigu announced on Tuesday that a base on the Franz Josef Land archipelago is nearly complete. Some 150 troops will be able to live on the base for up to 18 months without outside contact when it opens.
In tandem with the military expansion, Russia is building the Yamal LNG plant in the Ob River estuary in collaboration with the French energy company Total. It will produce gas, liquefy it and ship it to European and Asian markets.