Russia reopens Arctic airbases

One of the airports to be reopened is located on the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya.

Russia plans to reopen Soviet-era airfields in the Arctic. Air force personnel of the Western Military District will soon start preparations for a return to abandoned airfields.


“We will start reopening airfields on Novaya Zemlya and in Naryan-Mar already this summer”, Commander of the Western military Districs’s aviation Maj. Gen. Igor Makushev said on Wednesday.

Plans for next year include the reopening of a military airfield on Graham Bell Island, which is part of Franz Josef Land.

Military airfields in the Arctic were used extensively in the Soviet era, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 they have been generally mothballed.

According to Russian experts the reopening of the old airbases do not necessary mean that Russian is scaling up its military presence in the Arctic. “I don’t think these will be fully operational military bases with airplanes stationed there at all times”, says Redactor of the magazine Independent Military View Viktor Litovkin. Litovkin believes that the airports will be used during exercises, for control flights and other tasks, Kommersant writes.