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Russian airborne crack troops to practise survival near North Pole

April 02, 2015, 13:07 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Two drifting bases will be created near the North Pole this year
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© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

MOSCOW, April 2. /TASS/. Two Russian airborne divisions are making preparations for sending some of their best men for a survival exercise in the Arctic, airborne troops spokesman Yevgeny Meshkov told the media on Thursday. Currently, selected groups servicemen at the airborne divisions stationed near Pskov and Ivanovo are practising skills of survival after falling into the water at extremely low temperatures.

"Falling through the ice is the worst incident that may happen in the Arctic," Colonel Meshkov said. "For paratroops on a mission in Russia’s northern regions being ready for such situations will be of paramount importance. Practical training is being carried out in situations approximating extreme ones, when the water surface gets covered with ice within half an hour. There are certain temporal standards for getting out of the water fast. Every move must be polished to clock-work precision."

Two drifting bases will be created near the North Pole this year. One, called Kupol, will be used for military purposes. In part, commando groups will be practicing survival skills there. The other, civilian base North Pole-2015, will be doing scientific research.

A new combined strategic command has been operational on the basis of the Northern Fleet since December 12, 2014. In March, Russia held large-scale combat readiness exercises in the Arctic, including the Novaya Zemlya and Franz-Jozeph Land archipelagos, with 80,000 men, 80 ships and 220 planes and helicopters taking part.

Russian paratroops will be equipped with new special gear providing reliable protection at temperatures below 50 degrees Celsius. Colonel Meshkov said paratroops wearing such suits will be able to wait for blizzards to subside without any harm to health even while staying motionless for hours.

At the moment there is only one military academy in the whole of Rrussia - in Blagoveshchensk - which trains commanders for the Arctic forces. At the moment 120 cadets are getting instruction there in various Arctic specialties, including dog sledding skills. A special breeding club provides Husky dogs (a special northern dense-coat working breed) for the academy.

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