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Russia bolsters Arctic missile defenses after US threats

Russia has placed missile defense systems at the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in an effort to bolster its military presence in the Arctic, AFP reported. And in France, the issue also received attention.

Published: September 21, 2019, 9:27 am

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    The Security Council of Russia set up key priorities for its State Arctic Policy for 2020. As an economic engine, the region produces 11 percent of Russia’s GDP and contributes 22 percent to its growth. As a resource base, it holds up to 80 percent of Russia’s discovered industrial gas potential.

    The Russian defense ministry announced on Monday that the surface to air-missile regiment of the Northern Fleet’s air defense forces based on the archipelago’s southern Yuzhny Island will be deploying new S-400 systems.

    The S-400 is known as one of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world, able to reach targets up to 400 kilometers away. The regiment earlier had relied on the previous S-300 systems.

    Russia has been upgrading its military infrastructure in the Arctic. In addition to the Novaya Zemlya forces, Russian soldiers have been dispatched to the Franz Josef Land and the New Siberian Islands.

    The Russian response comes in the wake of threats by US Secretary of State Mike. In May this year, in Rovaniemi, Finland, Pompeo singled out China and Russia as “threats” because of their “aggressive” actions in the Arctic. “The region has become an arena of global power and competition,” he warned. Pompeo thus introduced the notion of a new conflict arising in the polar region.

    Six nations — the US, Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark — have land borders above the Arctic Circle. Receding ice has allowed increasing amounts of international shipping traffic to move between the Atlantic and Pacific. For that reason, it has become a global top priority due to its mineral riches and strategic importance.

    One of the most significant developments in the Arctic’s geopolitical configuration occurred in 2013 when China was invited to become a permanent observer to the Arctic Council.

    China has hugely boosted economic investment in the Yamal LNG project on the eastern coast of the Yamal Peninsula in Russia. Chinese companies own 30 percent of the $27 billion project, an “anchor” investment which could see future “cluster” infrastructure investments such as port, rail, and telecommunications projects.

    In 2016 France launched its National Roadmap for the Arctic. The document seeked to identify French interests in the region, enhance the legitimacy of French participation in the Arctic, and involve the country in the governance of the Arctic Ocean.

    But in France, Checknews was able to verify that a former Socialist minister never attended any of the increasingly important Arctic Council meetings despite having been appointed as current ambassador of the poles by President Emmanuel Macron.

    Ségolène Royal — also a former presidential candidate — has nevertheless been trying to suggest that she could be running for the presidential election in 2022. She was nominated by Macron as ambassador in charge of the international negotiations for the Arctic and Antarctic poles. But Royal never attended any of the four Arctic Council meetings.

    During her participation on the programme On n’est pas couché, broadcast on Saturday, September 14, she pretended to be informed about what had been discussed at the strategic meetings however. “What does France say? What do I say on behalf of France in these bodies, and especially in what is called the Arctic Council? It is to draw attention to the consequences of climate change.”

    Spokesperson Mikaa Mered, researcher and teacher at the Free Institute for International Relations, reported on Twitter. “In 2 years, S. Royal never went to any meeting of any official Arctic diplomatic forum and did NO action against heavy fuels … But who checks?”

    On the social network, he quoted Royal’s comments from the programme on public broadcaster France2. And the specialist also wrote:” It’s not just amazing. It’s scary … ”

    CheckNews, meanwhile, conducted an investigation on the former elected official of the Poitou-Charentes region, finding that she never participated in any of the four meetings of the “Senior Arctic Officials”.

    France was well represented, but not by Ségolène Royal, her staff said, trying to provide a justification for these absences: “Ségolène Royal decides to travel according to her commitments and her carbon footprint.”

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