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Satellite images show how Russia is building up military in the Arctic

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New satellite images show that Russia is now expanding its military bases in the Arctic region, despite the war in Ukraine putting a strain on its resources. 

The satellite images show Putin’s forces fortifying and expanding bases with improvements to its Arctic runways and the construction of a series of radar systems capable of detecting stealth aircraft.

Speaking to CNN, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said there was ‘a significant Russian military build-up in the high north’. 

Mr Stoltenberg confirmed that NATO was now doubling its presence in the area in response to Russia’s militarisation in the region.

Tiksi air defence site on October 4, 2022

The Tiksi air defence site is pictured between October 30, 2021 (left) and October 4 this year (right), showing Russian militarisation. Three radomes, which protect radar systems, have been built near the coast of the Laptev Sea

The satellite images do not show extensive expansion, but suggests that Putin’s forces are continuing to fortify and militarise the area as part of its defensive plans.

With the war in Ukraine continuing, already putting a sustained toll on Russian resources, the expansion in the Arctic north also shows that it is key to Putin’s long-term military strategy, experts say.

Russia has long been fortifying and improving its military bases and infrastructure in the north of the country. 

Since the Soviet era, it has constantly regenerated the facilities and maintain

The images show the continued construction of radar stations at Olenegorsk in northwest Russia, around 100 miles from the Finland border, and on the Kola Peninsula, a further 100 miles east.

Similar construction is being undertaken at a base in Vorkuta, close to the north coast of the country, above the arctic circle.

The satellite images show Putin's forces fortifying and expanding bases with improvements to its Arctic runways and the construction of a series of radar systems capable of detecting stealth aircraft

The satellite images show Putin’s forces fortifying and expanding bases with improvements to its Arctic runways and the construction of a series of radar systems capable of detecting stealth aircraft

Olengorsk radar station on June 19, 2021
Olengorsk radar station on October 2, 2022

Work on Olengorsk Radar Station has been progressing between June 2021 (left) and October 2022 (right), with a new building on the site

Rezonans-N Radar on August 9, 2021
Rezonans-N Radar on August 21, 2022

At the Ostrovnoy site by the Barents Sea, one of five new Rezonans-N radar to locate stealth jets is based, pictured on August 9, 2021 (left) and August 21, 2022 (right)

Konteyner OTH Radar receiver August 13, 2021
Konteyner OTH Radar receiver December 3, 2021

Rapid progress on the Konteyner OTH Radar receiver is seen between August 13, 2021 (left) and December 3, 2022 (right)

Putin is pictured in the Arctic in 2017, a region he is hoping to militarise and plunder

Putin is pictured in the Arctic in 2017, a region he is hoping to militarise and plunder

It also appears that Russia is constructing specialised Rezonans-N radars. Russian officials have claimed that this machinery will be able to detect stealth aircraft. 

These radars are being constructed in the town of Ostrovnoy, western Russian, on the coast of the Barents Sea, 250 miles from the Finland and Norway border.

The satellite images also show radomes, an enclosure to house radar antennas, have been built. 

They were constructed in the northeast of Russia at the Tiksi air defense site.

Other than the radars, Putin’s forces have been bolstering their aircraft infrastructure. 

Runway improvements at Nagurskoye air base on a series of Russian owned islands in the Arctic Ocean. It is Russia’s northernmost military facility.

Similar runway renovations were carried out at the military base on Kotelny Island off the coast of the northeast Russian mainland.

The region is now set to take on renewed importance after Russia was hammered by Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine, which also trashed its reputation as Europe’s second-most powerful army.

The Kremlin is likely to plunder an estimated $30trillion of natural resources from the frozen earth and open up new trading routes exposed by melting sea ice. 

Konteyner OTH Radar transmitter, May 1, 2022
Konteyner OTH Radar transmitter, December 3, 2022

Russia has long been fortifying and improving its military bases and infrastructure in the north of the country. Pictured: rapid progress on the Konteyner OTH Radar transmitter between May (left) and October (right)

Nagurskoye Air Base July 24, 2021
Nagurskoye Air Base August 5, 2022

The runway at Nagurskoye airfield has progressed far up in the Arctic Circle between July 2021 (left) and August 2022 (right)

Voronezh Radar in October 2021
Voronezh Radar in October 2022

Similar construction is being undertaken at a base in Vorkuta, close to the north coast of the country, above the arctic circle, pictured in October 2021 (left), and October 2022 (right)

Temp Airbase on September 1, 2021
Temp Airbase on August 7, 2022

Runway improvements at Temp air base on Kotelny Island are seen in Russia’s northeast on September 1, 2021 (left) and August 7, 2022 (right)

Putin, cash-strapped due to sanctions, is almost certain to lean on China for money to achieve his vision – offering Beijing a back-door into a region it has long plotted to control but where it has no territorial claim. 

Sitting together atop the world, the pair could menace the West across three continents and in its two largest oceans.

Russia’s presence in the High North is nothing new. Prized by both the Russian Empire and Soviets for its rich natural resources, Josef Stalin once spoke of the ‘Red Arctic’ and built dozens of military bases there.

But interest waned as the Soviet Union crumbled, and in 1987 Mikhail Gorbachev declared it should be a ‘zone of peace’ – signalling an end to military expansion there and the start of cooperation with the West over scientific research projects.

Putin declared the region to be the ‘concentration of practically all aspects of national security – military, political, economic, technological, environmental [and] resources’ at a summit in 2014.

Russia has been building new military bases while opening gas and oil fields across the Arctic, many of them along the North-East Passage – a valuable trading route that is opening up due to melting ice which Putin hopes he will be able to monetise in the years to come, along with $30trillion in natural resources

The 'Arctic Trefoil', or three-lobed leaf, military base on the island of Alexandra Land, part of the Franz Josef Land archipelago

A view of the “Arctic Trefoil”, or three-lobed leaf, military base on the island of Alexandra Land, which is part of the Franz Josef Land archipelago

A view of buildings at Russia's northern military base on Kotelny island, deep inside the Arctic Circle

A view of buildings at Russia’s northern military base on Kotelny island, deep inside the Artic Circle

Since then, he has reopened some 50 Soviet-era Arctic bases including airfields, radar stations, cargo ports, missile launch pads and naval yards.

Others have been expanded, including at least 18 airfields in the Kola Peninsula which sits around 200 miles east of Finland and houses most of Russia’s military forces in the region: The headquarters of its Northern Sea Fleet, a large portion of its nuclear forces including bombers and missiles, and supply stations for bases further north.

Some have been adapted to house Moscow’s state-of-the-art military technology. 

The Plesetsk Cosmodrome was used last year for a test-launch of Russia’s latest satellite-killer missile and was recently used to launch Sarmat-2, its latest nuclear missile capable of hitting any country on the planet.

Other bases have been adapted to house new hypersonic Tsirkon cruise missiles, and submarine ports in the Kola Peninsula are though to play host to Poseidon nuclear drones, reports by the Centre for International and Strategic Studies found.

Dozens of new bases have also been built, including at least five major airfields along what is known as the North-East Passage – a shipping route connecting Europe with Asia that is becoming increasingly accessible due to rising global temperatures weakening sea ice that has made it impassible in the past.

Russia hopes to turn this into a viable and lucrative alternative to current shipping lanes that run either around the Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and across the Indian Ocean, or through the Mediterranean and around the Arabian Peninsula via the Suez. 

Going north would shave around two weeks off even the fastest journeys further south.

Vladimir Putin ordered Russia to increase its nuclear combat readiness, bolster troop numbers, prepare for the use of Zircon hypersonic missiles, and sending new military units to the borders with Finland

Vladimir Putin ordered Russia to increase its nuclear combat readiness, bolster troop numbers, prepare for the use of Zircon hypersonic missiles, and sending new military units to the borders with Finland

Putin is also wanting to expand his military within Russia’s own borders as he continues to pile troops into Ukraine.

Yesterday, to counter Volodymyr Zelensky’s shiny new aid package from the US, the Russian despot announced a further 350,000 soldiers will be sent into battle.

The war-mongering despot warned the Kremlin will invest whatever necessary to increase its nuclear arsenal and vowed his Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles will be available to his forces within weeks.

New military units will be formed on Russia’s western borders to terrorise and scold Finland and Sweden for seeking to join NATO in the face of Kremlin aggression.

In his speech to defence chiefs in Moscow, Putin made a series of rare and frank concessions about his invasion, admitting there were ‘problems’ with his mobilisation and acknowledging vague ‘criticism’ of his military strategy.

He said the country’s military should learn lessons and modernise based on its experiences in Ukraine and special emphasis will go to developing his country’s nuclear forces, which he described as ‘the main guarantee of Russia’s sovereignty’. 

Defence minister Sergei Shoigu also declared plans to form new military units in western Russia to, as Kremlin chiefs prepared for a new phase in the war which is entering its tenth month.

The nuclear-capable cutting-edge Zircon missiles, which travel at speeds of nearly 7,000mph, have ‘no equivalent in the world’, Putin claimed, although his forces have been beset with humiliation after humiliation so far in his war.

Putin also acknowledged that the call-up of 300,000 reservists that he ordered in September had not gone smoothly.

‘The partial mobilisation that was carried out revealed certain problems, as everyone well knows, which should be promptly addressed,’ he said.

The call-up drew strong criticism even from Kremlin allies, as it emerged that military commissariats were enlisting many men who were physically unfit or too old, and new recruits were lacking basic equipment such as sleeping bags and winter clothing.

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