Russia to Strengthen its Military Bases Abroad

1Russia is strengthening its military bases abroad as well as helping to boost the armed forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

6“In recent years, we have worked to strengthen the Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan: we have increased the number of air defense units at the Kant airbase [in Kyrgyzstan], and the 201st base now has a divisional structure,” Shoigu said at a security conference in Moscow.

The International Security Conference began in Moscow Friday for the third time. The event is being attended by military experts and government officials from a number of countries, including China, Belarus, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Serbia.

Defense ministers or deputy ministers from the member countries of the CSTO and SCO are also planning to attend the conference. Two panel discussions are expected: “The Search for Ways to Stabilize the Situation in the Middle East and North Africa” and “Afghanistan and Regional Security.”

European Union, US and NATO representatives, critical of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, refused to participate in the event.

2Previously Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after his trip to four Latin American countries that Moscow had no plans of creating military bases in the region but might establish some sustainment centers for the Russian Navy there.

“There will be no bases – we don’t need them,” Lavrov said on Rossiya’s news show ‘Sergey Brilev’s News on Saturday,’ noting that in order for the Russian Navy to sail worldwide, it needs sustainment centers for refueling, maintenance of the vessels, and recreation of the crews.

3“We’re not after setting up such centers in every country,” the minister stressed. “We will consider the proposals and these centers will be set up wherever it would be best possible for our Navy to negotiate with the host countries,” Lavrov said.

5Back in March, there were reports that Russia may open naval bases overseas, with Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela named as possible locations. Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov then elaborated that Moscow had no intentions of setting up any military bases in Latin America and is only considering sustainment centers for Russian military ships in various ports across the globe.

At the moment, Russia has military bases in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Abkhazia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Tajikistan, and South Ossetia.

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Russia to Build Military Infrastructure on Arctic Ocean Islands

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A convoy of vessels will sail to Russia-controlled islands in the Arctic Ocean to continue the efforts towards securing Russian economic interests in the Arctic, a military official said.

1“It’s not just about the building of military infrastructure; there are plans for research, hydrography and detailing of navigation conditions,” representative of the command of Russia’s Northern Fleet says.

“The task force will visit Frantz Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya, New Siberian Islands and Wrangel Island,” representative of the command of Russia’s Northern Fleet Capitan Andrei Korablyov told a news conference at ITAR-TASS on the occasion of Day of the Polar Worker marked in Russia on Wednesday.

The year 2013 became pivotal in the operation of Russia’s armed forces in the Arctic thanks to the cruise of Northern Fleet’s warships to the New Siberian Islands, the renovation of the Temp airfield and establishment of aviation commandant’s offices,” Korablyov said. “This work will continue, but it’s not just about the building of military infrastructure; there are plans for research, hydrography and detailing of navigation conditions.”

2“All these efforts are aimed at preserving the Northern Sea Route as Russia’s national transport system,” the naval official said.

“Russia is returning to the Arctic, but in entirely different conditions,” deputy dean of the department for international relations of St Petersburg State University Dmitry Baryshnikov said. “Instead of the uninhabited territory which seafarers saw in the 18th and 19 centuries, it became a centre of geopolitical interests. We haven’t’ been alone there for a long time.”

His colleague Natalya Markushina added that “not only Russia, but also the USA has an Arctic development doctrine” but that their doctrine “does not account for Russian interests in the region.”

8A two-volume book titled “Securing Russian National Interests in the Arctic” was shown to journalists. It packs scientific approaches to developing the region in modern conditions with an emphasis on human personality, comfortable living conditions and preservation of the cultures of 42 peoples inhabiting the region.

Meanwhile Russia’s Northern Fleet is planning new expeditions to the Arctic regions this summer, a spokesman for the fleet has said.

“This year we intend to continue laying the route through the temporarily forgotten water regions of the Arctic seas,” Andrei Korablev said at a roundtable on securing Russia’s national interests in the Arctic.

3The fleet is planning expeditions to the islands of Franz Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya, the New Siberian Islands and Wrangel Island. “We will continue to study the Arctic Ocean, conduct scientific research and meteorological observations, study the navigation and hydrographic conditions, correct charts and sailing directions, survey the geodetic stations in the Arctic, as well as explore the areas of navigation for ships of non-ice class,” Korablev said.

The studies are to be carried out not only in the interests of the military, but also to ensure maritime economic activities in the Russian Arctic, as well as to preserve the Northern Sea Route as a national transport system.

4“In addition, we plan to create military infrastructure on almost all the islands and archipelagos of the Arctic Ocean in order to create a unified system of monitoring the air, surface and underwater conditions,” Korablev noted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated on April 22 that Russia is also actively engaged in the Arctic region to protect its national security and economic interests.

The Russian Defense Ministry has already announced plans to reopen airfields and ports on the New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago, as well as at least seven airstrips on the continental part of the Arctic Circle that were mothballed in 1993.