The risk of war in the Arctic involving Russia and NATO is rising, a Kremlin commander has claimed. The chilling forecast came from hawkish head of the Russian Northern Fleet, Vice-Admiral Alexander Moiseev, who warned NATO countries risk war over the Arctic.
He pointed to an alleged significant increase in NATO’s presence in polar waters warning how military exercises by Britain and the US along with other Western countries have doubled in five years.
The news comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin orders the reopening and modernisation of military bases along Russia’s 15,000 miles of Arctic coastline.
The Kremlin is currently tapping the area’s vast offshore oil and gas reserves.
Vice-Admiral Moiseev urged NATO to keep out of what Moscow sees as its mineral-rich polar backyard.
He said: “In the near future, we should expect a further increase in the military presence of the combined armed forces and, as a result, an increase in the likelihood of conflict.
“In recent years, the joint armed forces of the alliance’s member states have carried out dozens of exercises in the close proximity of our northern borders.
“The drills were different in size and involved various weaponry, ranging from nuclear submarines, carrier battle groups and other units, including special operations forces.”
The northern fleet commander accused the West of seeking to pressure Russia with sanctions and politicise multilateral cooperation in the Arctic.
He accused NATO countries of failing to recognise Russian national interests and a readiness to use military force as a means to achieve political goals.
And he claimed non-NATO countries Sweden and Finland were increasing their Arctic military interests – along with countries which do not have polar territory.
He added: “The military formations of non-aligned states are becoming increasingly involved in military exercises and exercises in the region, first of all, Sweden and Finland, which are actively participating now.
“Countries that do not have direct access to the polar regions, more and more actively try to gain access to the resources of the Arctic, [and] its transport communications.”
Moiseev claimed “there are no challenges in the Arctic requiring military solutions, I draw attention to this.”
Despite this, he insisted: “The Russian Federation nevertheless considers building up its military potential in the Arctic zone as a necessary measure to counter possible threats and create favourable conditions for protecting national interests.”