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Russian Northern Fleet to be main striking force of Arctic Military Command

The formation of the Arctic military command is part of Russia’s ongoing extensive program to build up military presence in the Arctic

MOSCOW, September 10. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian Northern Fleet will be detached from the Western Military District by December 1 to become the main striking force of the mooted Unified Strategic Command (USC) Sever (North), which is under formation in Russia with the aim of protecting the country’s interests in the Arctic, a source in the Defense Ministry told ITAR-TASS on Wednesday.

“Moreover, USC Sever will also include other military branches of the Russian Armed Forces, which would be also detached from the Western Military District,” the source said, adding that the formation of the USC Sever would be fully completed by the end of the year.

The formation of the Arctic military command is part of Russia’s ongoing extensive program to build up military presence in the Arctic. Last March, President Vladimir Putin said that the armed forces’ training and development efforts should incorporate measures to increase the combat component of the Arctic group. The Defense Ministry has since made several steps along these lines.

On the Kotelny Island - the largest one in the Novosibirsk Archipelago, in the Laptev Sea, the airdrome Temp was opened. Another military airport, Rogachyovo, commissioned on the southern island of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, is capable of accommodating fighter jets.

The construction of the Tiksi airdrome in Yakutia’s northernmost locality, inside the Arctic circle, will be completed in 2015. Three airdromes - in the Alykel community (the Krasnoyarsk Territory), in Vorkuta (the Komi Republic), and in Anadyr, the administrative center of Chukotka, will be expanded.

Earlier, Russia announced it was recreating its military base on the Novosibirsk Islands in the Laptev Sea.

Russian Air Force and Air and Space Defense Force groups in the Arctic are growing as well. Air Force Commander-in-Chief Viktor Bondarev said last month that at the moment there was just one Air Force squadron, but “normal regiments and full-scale divisions” would be stationed there in the future.

The Russian armed forces have stepped up military exercises in the Arctic. Last April, airborne troops were parachuted to the drifting base Barneo, in the Arctic. Belarussian crack troops are scheduled to join Russian paratroopers for a similar airdrop operation in 2015. However, there are no immediate plans for a permanent presence of Russian airborne troops in the Arctic.

On August 4-8, the area of the Franz Josef Land was a scene of exercises for pilots of the Central Military District, involving strategic bombers Tupolev-95, long-range interceptors MiG-31 and frontline bombers Sukhoi-24.

Kommersant daily reported in August citing a source in the General Staff that the first two military garrisons would be deployed on the Wrangel Island and the Chukotka Peninsula’s Cape Schmidt. A total of six such garrisons are to crop up in the region, one of them in the Amderma community, the Nenets Autonomous District - a strategic point for keeping under control the entire western section of the Northern Sea Route.