New Russian forces to protect Arctic coast

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - January 23, 2017

Two new Arctic divisions are to be established as part of an effort strengthen security along the Northern Sea Route. One of them is likely to be stationed in the Kola Peninsula, Izvestia reports.

A source in the Ministry of Defense tells the newspaper that the new forces can be tasked with anti-assault, anti-sabotage and anti-aircraft defense issues along the Northern Sea Route.

One of them will be established in the Russia’s western Arctic, the other in the eastern Arctic. They will both be under the Northern Fleet and interact closely with law-enforcement authorities like the Ministry of Interior, the National Guard and the FSB’s Border Guard Service.

The ministry source says issues related to organizational and staff structures now are being elaborated. The new forces will probably not be on a lower level than divisions, the newspaper reports.

“This is part of the important work on the integrated development of the Arctic zone along the Northern Sea Route, an area which today includes more than 70 major sites and ports,” General Mayor Yevgeny Nikiforov says to Izvestia.

The so-called Russian Arctic Brigade is already stationed in the Kola Peninsula. The Arctic Brigade is based partly on the 80th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade in Alakurtti and the 200 Independent Motor Rifle Brigade in Pechenga, both of them located near the borders with Norway and Finland.

Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu last year confirmed that a new military structure is under development in the Russian east Arctic. It is planned to launch in 2018, and will include several motorized infantry battalions, he said.