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Russia's interests in the Arctic go beyond the economic and military advantages offered by the Northern Sea Route. The region is rich in minerals, wildlife, fish, and other natural resources. Some estimates claim that 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil reserves and almost one-third of the world's undiscovered natural gas reserves are located in the Arctic region. For now, the Arctic region is an area of low conflict, and it is in everyone's interest to keep it that way. Although the security challenges currently faced in the Arctic are not military in nature, there is still a requirement for military capability in the region that can support civilian authorities. So it should be no surprise that like Russia, other Arctic countries deploy military assets into the region. Even so, Russia has taken steps to increase military capability in the region that seems to be beyond the scope of supporting civilian operations.
Russia's primary military focus in the Arctic is in the maritime sphere. New Russian naval doctrine calls for Russia to increase its maritime presence in the Arctic. Already, Russia's Northern Fleet, which is based in the Arctic, counts for two-thirds of the Russian navy. There will be a significant increase of Russian ground troops based in the region too. Over the next few years two new so-called Arctic brigades will be permanently based above the Arctic Circle, and the current regiment of marines assigned to the Northern Fleet will increase by one-third. Russia has plans to build 13 airfields as well as 10 radar posts along the course of the Northern Sea Route. Most of these airfields will be refurbished Soviet era bases, but others will be new.
Nationalism is on the rise in Russia, Putin's Arctic strategy is popular among the population.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/12/russia-arctic-opportuni...?alt=rss
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