MOSCOW, October 22. /TASS/. The creation of the Russian Arctic force grouping will be completed by 2018, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday.
"By 2018 we intend to complete the creation and equipment with weapons of the whole Arctic force grouping," the minister told a news conference at the Russian Geographical Society.
In 2014, President Vladimir Putin included the defense of the country’s Arctic borders in the list of the main tasks of the Armed Forces. To this end, the Arctic Joint Strategic Command North was established in 2014 by the Russian military on the basis of the Northern Fleet, then it was reinforced with manpower and hardware from the Western, Central and Eastern Military Districts stationed in circumpolar areas. Russia is also in the process of building of 10 airfields and 13 air-defense radar stations in the New Siberian Islands, Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya and other points of Russian Arctic. The ground element of the command will incorporate two Arctic motorised infantry brigades, Air Defense forces consisting of Pantsir-S1 missile and other systems, and the Northern Fleet will become its main striking force. Furthermore, by 2017 the Tiksi airport complex will be operational, and it will be garrisoned with upgraded MiG-31 interceptors.
According to the minister, Russia has already spent more than 700 million roubles ($11 million) to clean the Artic from Soviet-era metal waste.
The ministry has "purchased equipment to dispose of old barrels on Wrangel and Novosibirsk Islands," said Shoigu, head of the Russian Geographical Society.
More than 5,000 barrels had already been processed, he said, adding that this work was extremely important and could take years.
Waste material in the Arctic comes from Soviet-era military bases abandoned in the early 1990s. Hundreds of thousands of fuel barrels and old military equipment were left rusting in the area, posing a major environmental threat to the region.