Analysis & Opinions - The Wall Street Journal

A Cold War in the Arctic Circle

| Jan. 01, 2018

NATO plans a new command to counter Russia’s buildup. It should be only a start.

The Arctic is a region of tremendous strategic importance for global trade and national security. The High North is also experiencing a massive Russian military buildup, which calls for the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization to adopt a new strategy.

Vladimir Putin has been hyping the threat posed by U.S. attack submarines deployed in the Arctic Ocean. Meantime, Russia has been using Arctic waters as a sanctuary for its ballistic-missile-carrying submarines—the key component of its strategic nuclear forces—and wants to enhance its regional military infrastructure to protect them. This is driven by Moscow’s longstanding view that a nuclear war can be won by a better-prepared side.

With these strategic imperatives in mind, Russia created an Arctic Command, which became operational in 2015. It has also embarked on a costly military buildup—new airfields, ports, air-defense installations and barracks—and heightened the tempo of military exercises and activities.

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For Academic Citation: Dobriansky, Paula.“A Cold War in the Arctic Circle.” The Wall Street Journal, January 1, 2018.