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Shell’s belligerent partner, Russia


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Extracts from an article by Kyle Mizokami published by THE WEEK: 29 MARCH 2016

Russia is staking its claim to the Arctic and is being more than a little unreasonable about it. In 2007 Russian robotic submarines planted the national flag under the North Pole. Russia claims the North Pole on the grounds that the Lomonosov Ridge, an extension of Russia’s continental shelf territory, passes underneath the pole.

Russia is preparing to back its claims up, too: As of 2015, it had established six new bases north of the Arctic Circle, including 16 deepwater ports and 13 airfields. Russia has deployed advanced S-400 long-range surface-to-air missiles, as well as “Bastion” supersonic anti-ship missiles, to protect Arctic bases. The vastness of the Arctic means these weapons don’t threaten other countries, but they do create fortified bases that will allow Russia to springboard ships, planes, and Arctic-trained troops into contested territory.

Sometime this year Russian airborne forces are expected to conduct large-scale exercises in the area.

In all fairness, Russia does have a very large amount of territory north of the Arctic Circle, and it has a right to defend itself. Viewed in a neutral context, the exercises and base-building are typical measures of self-defense. However Russia’s grandiose claims to the North Pole, aggression in the Ukraine, and the repressive government of Vladimir Putin add a menacing subtext to these new military developments.

The U.S. has no major bases north of the Arctic Circle line, but is practicing to go there if necessary. 

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