Russia and China have played for increased presence in the Arctic Circle for a while now – this much is known. But recent satellite images reveal just how far Russia has taken things – and it presents a real neighborhood watch issue for America.
Ellen Mitchell, writing for The Hill, explained that Russian weapon systems now based close to the Alaskan shoreline include the “Poseidon 2M39 unmanned stealth torpedo, a so-called super-weapon powered by a nuclear reactor. Russia [has been] quickly developing the armament and tested it in February, with further tests planned this year, according to Russian state media.”
Thanks to a remote space imaging company, MAXAR, we have a bird’s eye view of a Russian base, expanded to accommodate an array of weapons. The airbase in Nagurskoye and associated buildings and facilities are referred to as a “trefoil” base defined by the three-pointed star building in the center.
The Eurasian Times’ Ayush Jain reports that the Poseidon 2M39 “super-weapon” represents a significant threat to the U.S. coastlines. The autonomous stealth torpedo is intended to carry a nuclear warhead speculated to have a yield of two megatons. Additionally, Poseidon’s performance estimates give it a maximum speed of 54 knots, a range of 5,400 nautical miles, and an operating depth of a maximum of 3,300 ft.
In 2019, H. I. Sutton, writing for Forbes, described the Poseidon weapon as:
“…one of the most disruptive weapons currently being developed. It is also one of the least well understood. Each new report and image provides intelligence that improves our understanding. It is designed to hit coastal cities with a 2-megaton warhead, around 133 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.”
According to Sutton, the Poseidon is “massive … around 20-30 times the size of regular torpedoes.” In a tweet from Russia state-affiliated media outlet RT, viewers see the first-ever video of the “underwater nuke drone ‘field-test’ released” from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
In addition to the Poseidon, facilities are being expanded to accommodate “Russian bombers, MiG-31BM jets [capable of launching hypersonic cruise missiles] and new radar systems close to the Alaskan coast.”
Abraham Mahshie, in his April 6, 2021 article for the Washington Examiner, explained that the military expansion along Russia’s Arctic coast is “threatening a key strategic route that could be used by the United States to protect the homeland. Mahshie said that the presence of “bombers and jets put Russian offensive platforms within striking distance of the U.S.”
Pentagon Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby explained to reporters, “We have national security interests there that we need to protect and defend. We obviously recognize that the region is key terrain that’s vital to our own homeland defense.”
In another article for The Hill, Ellen Mitchell, reporting on Russian military activities in the Arctic, says, “In addition, in late March, three Russian nuclear ballistic missile submarines simultaneously broke through several feet of ice in the Arctic in a military drill, a maneuver that comes as the Kremlin has moved to raise its defenses in the Arctic.”
Combine Russia’s extensive build-up in its Arctic facilities and development of new nuclear weapons with renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine and Russian military troop maneuvers on the Ukraine border, and one could get the impression that Vladimir Putin longs for a return to the Cold War days. If so, he might consider that the Cold War did not end well for the Kremlin.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
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