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Russian military to boost Arctic presence: commander
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Nov 3, 2017

Russia is boosting aviation infrastructure in the Arctic and will further increase its air defences there, the commander of the country's northern fleet said on Friday.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has stepped up efforts to expand its military presence in the Arctic which has become a theatre for rival claims over a sea floor believed to be rich in minerals, oil and gas.

"Every Arctic island where there are bases of the Northern Fleet is being outfitted with all-season airfields which will be able to host different types of aircraft including heavy transport planes and fighter jets," said Vice Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov.

"We are creating a system to monitor the abovewater and underwater situation in the Northern Passage and to fully control the entire airspace in our zone of responsibility in the Arctic," he was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

The air defence systems in the Arctic will also be augmented following the deployment of the first air defence regiment in Novaya Zemlya archipelago in 2015, he said.

"Air defence forces will only continue to improve and grow," he said.

Russia has significantly boosted its military presence in the Arctic over the last five years, regularly holding exercises and building highly autonomous bases for its troops.

These include the "Arctic Trifold" base on the Alexandra Land island of the Franz Josef Land archipelago, and the "Northern Clover" on Kotelny island of the New Siberian Islands archipelago.

A total of 100 military infrastructure objects are set to be completed this year in the Arctic.

"Every Arctic base of the Northern Fleet can function autonomously without re-supply like an orbital (space) station for one to one-and-a-half years," Yevmenov said.

Earlier this week the defence ministry said its expeditions had discovered eleven new islands and six straits in the Arctic over the past five years.

During a visit to Franz Josef Land this past spring, Putin said the importance of the Arctic was "huge for both strengthening Russia's position in the world and ensuring its economic interests".

"The value of mineral resources in the Arctic is over 30 billion dollars," he said at the time.

Besides energy resources, Moscow is keen to exploit the Northern Passage, developing a fleet of powerful nuclear icebreakers, one of which was floated out in September.

Global warming has made the Northern Passage more attractive as a shorter link between Europe and Asia.

In August, a Russian tanker carrying liquefied natural gas completed a 4,060-kilometre journey from Norway to South Korea in a record six days and 12 hours via the Northern Passage without the help of an ice breaker.

Groundwater and tundra fires may work together to thaw permafrost
Boulder CO (SPX) Oct 26, 2017
Groundwater may play an unrecognized role in thawing Arctic permafrost following wildfires, according to new research. The new study reveals that, after wildfire burns off a portion of organic rich soil that normally insulates permafrost, summer warmth penetrates deeper into the frozen soils, allowing groundwater to flow downgradient and potentially contributing to greater release of green ... read more

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