Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic is the largest since the Cold War

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Russia is engaged in the biggest military build-up in the Arctic since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Under president Vladimir Putin, Russia is making a play for the region’s valuable resources, bringing in missiles, opening new military bases and constructing state of the art nuclear icebreaking ships.

The build-up is likely the result of several factors. With climate change loosening up Arctic ice, increasingly it will be possible to send ships over the northern sea route from Murmansk to the Bering Strait near Alaska. Russia hopes to secure that maritime traffic and push a territorial claim to nearly half a million square miles of the Arctic, which are thought to contain extensive oil and gas reserves.

At the same time, the US is building up its military presence in another part of the world. It recently deployed 3,500 American soldiers and military hardware in Poland and the Baltics. Their arrival is part of a wider, multinational build-up of NATO forces that began under president Obama.