The paratroopers from the 98th Paratroopers Division in Ivanovo were dropped over the island of Kotelny on Friday in a show of strength in Arctic conditions. The soldiers, dressed in new specially designed 7-layer military gear landed on the island after having undergone an Arctic survival training program, the Russian Ministry of Defence informs.
The paratroopers were dropped from a fleet of Ilyushin IL-76 airlifters. Also various technical equipment was dropped. The soldiers used the airfield Tiksi as base ahead of the operation.
As previously reported, the Russian Northern Fleet late 2013 took major efforts in the reopening of the Temp airfield at Kotelny, one of the main islands at the archipelago. Three Navy vessels, including the “Petr Veliky” missile cruiser, as well as seven support vessels and four nuclear-powered icebreakers, were involved in the operations.
The operation included the moving of more than ten housing modules on shore.
The Island of Kotelny in the period 1933-1993 housed a research station and military base. Significant volumes of abandoned military equipment and metal scrap is covering major parts of the island. Reportedly there is a total of more than 60 thousand rusting oil barrels left on site.
According to the Ministry of Defence, the new base will protect offshore oil and gas resources in the area and keep an eye on the growing number of ships sailing along the Northern Sea Route.
Russia is prepared to protect its interests in the Arctic with military means if necessary, says Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu, pointing to the increasing interest in the region’s resources by countries with no direct access to the Arctic.
Development of tourism is one of Russia’s prioritized areas to secure its presence on the archipelago of Svalbard. The state company Trust Arktikugol is now registered as a tour operator and could welcome its first guests to the Arctic wilderness.
The UK needs to up its game in the Arctic or risk being «outmaneuvered” by other states, and should start by appointing an ambassador to the region, according to a report by the House of Lords Arctic Committee.