Russia has begun building military bases in its Arctic Far East.
Independent English-language newspaper Moscow Times reported this week that ships have unloaded pre-fabricated buildings to create military installations on Russia’s Wrangel Island and Cape Schmidt. Both are about 300 miles from Alaska’s Point Hope.
President Vladimir Putin this spring ordered the military to step up its presence in the region. He said last month he intends to provide security for shipping and pursue Russia’s strategic interests in the Arctic, within the limits of international law.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, in Canada this week for an Arctic conference, says Russia’s move isn’t necessarily a precursor to future hostilities. But she says it does serve as more evidence the U.S. isn’t keeping up with the infrastructure investments it should be making in the region.
“I am concerned that we as a nation are setting ourselves up for another ‘Sputnik Moment,’” she said in a written statement issued by her Senate office. “But this time (we are) falling behind more than any other country, with even non-Arctic nations like China and India investing in icebreakers and acknowledging the value of the region.”