‘Strategic messaging’: Russian fighters in Arctic spark debate on Canada’s place at the top of the world

National Post
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin James Alexander Michie

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin walks after inspecting a new Russian fighter jet after its test flight in Zhukovksy, outside Moscow, Russia, on June 17, 2010. Alexei Druzhinin / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The debate about Russia’s intentions and Canada’s own status at the top of the world has been renewed. This is basically due to the actions that Russia has recently taken in the Arctic. And according to the newspaper Izvestia, at the end of last month, the Russian military will resume combat patrols in the North Pole for the first time in 30 years. In such a way that the patrols will be added to the regular flights of bombers to the edge of the airspace of both the United States and Canada.

Do not forget that Russia has not been left behind. And it has been strengthening its civil and military capabilities in its north for a decade. While the old air bases of the Cold War era have been rejuvenated. Since foreign policy observers have counted four new Arctic brigade combat teams, 14 new operational airfields, 16 deepwater ports, and 40 icebreakers, with another 11 under development.

Similarly, bomber patrols have been constant. NORAD has reported up to 20 sightings and 19 interceptions per year. While for its part, the commercial infrastructure has also kept pace. A vast gas field has been opened on the Yamal peninsula, on the central coast of Russia. In fact, Russian news sources have reported that the volume of cargo is expected to grow to at least 40 million tonnes in 2020 from 7.5 million tonnes in 2016

Opinions that arise

For her part, Arctic expert and history professor at the University of Waterloo, Whitney Lackenbauer, has expressed, “It is clear that she is sending strategic messages,” and in the same way, she assured, “This is the next step.”

While John Higginbotham of the Center for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo says that Canada needs to keep up, if only because it cannot count on the current international order.

Higginbotham has said, “If the globalized system is fragmented, we will get a world of blocks. The blocks will have the power to close international shipping channels.” And he has similarly stated, “It is a terrible strategic error that Canada abandons our own maritime route.”

However, it would be worth saying that the Arctic domain would also give Russia a powerful card to play. And although Canada has little to compare, it should not sit idly by.

Source: The Canadian Press, Bob Weber | National Post

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