Russia defines Arctic intentions with supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles

Peace in our time.

St. Nicholas presides over the Russian military base at Nargurskoye, on Alexandra Island, Franz Josef Land, which is undergoing a major expansion by Russia.
St. Nicholas presides over the Russian military base at Nargurskoye, on Alexandra Island, Franz Josef Land, which is undergoing a major expansion by Russia.

If it wasn’t clear before that Russia intends to be prepared to “fight the Arctic,” it should be now.  A report from last week indicates that the Russians plan to put “Bastion” anti-ship missile systems at their Arctic bases in 2015, to go along with airfield improvements, aircraft deployments, and installation of mobile anti-air missile systems and early warning radars for a network of bases that extends from one end of Russia’s Arctic coast to the other, and well into the Arctic Ocean.

There is certainly a question as to what “threat” Russia imagines herself to be countering with the deployment of the cruise missile systems.

But that’s really asking the wrong question.  Given the dearth of non-Russian surface ship traffic through the area in question (maps 1 and 2), and the certainty that other nations with Arctic claims have no motive to put ships in that area against Russia’s will, a more accurate interpretation of this move is that Russia seeks to hold a geomilitary veto over the sea-lanes, in a manner similar to the veto sought by China over the South China Sea. Continue reading “Russia defines Arctic intentions with supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles”

Weird times in the Far East, Part 1

Interesting times.

Destabilizing conditions abound.

Potemkin bomber patrols

Russian news agencies aren’t trumpeting Russian long-range bomber patrols for English-speaking consumption as they once did.  But they are still reporting the patrols, at least sometimes.  And the terms in which the latest one was reported hark back to the days when Pravda (“truth”) was synonymous with “blatant lie.”

This is how the Voice of Russia recounted a patrol by two Tu-95MS (Bear) bombers “near the Aleutian Islands” in late May (emphasis added): Continue reading “Weird times in the Far East, Part 1”

UNK SUB POSS2 LOW

A possible submarine sighted in August 2008 north of Canada’s Baffin Island may have been Russian, but was probably not connected to an explosion reported in the same area 10 days before.

There is simply nothing more fun than a mystery sub.  Some of the voltage seeps off when the original report is months old, but the spark is still there.  When the report comes from non-experts, and involves a submarine sighting in an area where submarines have not been routinely confirmed to be, a healthy skepticism is always in order.  But skepticism or no, it’s still just so darn much… fun.

The Toronto Globe and Mail revealed yesterday that Canadian military reconnaissance assets had been deployed, in August 2008, following a 9 August report from hunters, on the northern tip of Baffin Island, that they had seen a submarine offshore.  The activities, not reported at the time, were recorded in military documents obtained by the Globe and Mail under Canadian “access to information law.”  Authorities had taken the sub-sighting report seriously, and dispatched Canadian Rangers to investigate it, but provided no information on their findings, to questions this week from the media.

G&M, in its report, ties the submarine sighting from 9 August 2008 to a large explosion reported in the same vicinity 10 days before, in the early morning hours of 31 July 2008.  However, G&M acknowledges that Canadian authorities determined there was no connection between the two events.  What may, however, have been connected to the submarine sighting – as implied in the G&M story – was Prime Minister Harper’s announcement, three weeks later, that Ottawa would begin requiring foreign ships entering Canadian waters for transit passage to report their presence to Canada. Continue reading “UNK SUB POSS2 LOW”