Putin arms Arctic drillers

Special forces will be hunting down "terrorists and other potential threats" in Arctic.

The president warns against hostile action and terrorism in the Arctic and says regional oil installations must be protected. At the same time, he signs a law, empowering oil companies to establish their own armed forces.


Speaking to his top national security aides on Tuesday, Putin highlighted the need for an enhanced security presence in Russian Arctic territories. According to the president, oil production facilities, loading terminals and pipelines “must carefully be protected against terrorists and other potential threats”.

“There can be no trivialities in this work”, the president stressed, a transcript from the meeting reads.

Militarization of oil industry
The speech to the National Security Council comes on the same day as Putin signs amendments in a federal law on the protection of oil and gas objects and infrastructure. According to the new legislation, the Russian oil companies will from now on be entitled to establish their own protection units. Newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta believes the companies will end up hiring not “one hundred security guards”, but rather “thousands of well-armed people, equipped with automatic weapons, vehicles, vessels and aircrafts”. Most of the people are likely to be former military personnel, police officers and special forces agents, the newspaper writes.

State-level tensions
This week’s Arctic speech from the Russian leader has a scope which goes far beyond imagined threats from potential terrorists. It also includes a major element of heightened inter-state tensions. Putin argues that there is an “increasing conflict of interest between the Arctic coastal states” and that “the situation in the world is fraught with new risks and challenges to Russian national interests”.

“In this situation we are obliged to take additional measures, in order to not lag behind our partners, sustain Russian influence in the region and somewhere even outpace our partners”, Putin underlined.

In this week’s Security Council meeting, Putin elevated the Arctic in issues of Russian national security.

Military buildup
The Kremlin’s response to the situation is a buildup of military capacities.

The reopening of Soviet-era far Arctic airports will be continued and coordinated training between units of the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Emergency Situations and other services will be intensified. In addition, a unified system of navy vessels, both surface ships and submarines, will be established, Putin says.

“We will continue to invest significant means in the Arctic, strengthen security and resolve problems connected with the social and economic development of the region”, the president underlines.