Abstract. This paper conducts a retrospective analysis of the evolution of views on military security in the Arctic region by Russia’s military-political leadership. It singles out the main factors that have affected the practical implementation of measures to protect the northern borders of the state.

Owing to the size of its Arctic coast, Russia has always held the biggest polar sector. The same circumstances largely conditioned the accumulation of considerable historical experience in ensuring military security in the region, which is especially topical at present. The Arctic today is an area where the circumpolar countries’ interests intersect. A new round of struggle for control over this strategically important territory between Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway, and Denmark is unfolding before our very eyes. Several foreign states are attempting to review fundamental provisions of international treaties that regulate the main types of activity in the Arctic. Unquestionably, for the Russian Federation, the best option would be a peaceful solution of problems in this very special part of the earth. However, this kind of outcome may happen only if we are actually capable of protecting Russia’s national interests.

Russia made its first acquaintance with the Arctic way back in the Middle Ages as it started developing the areas of the White Sea and Murman. The region rich in resources got the name of the Russian North. Russia’s Arctic destiny was outlined by Mikhail Lomonosov in his work A Concise Description of Various Voyages about Northern Seas and Indication of a Likely Passage to Eastern India via the Siberian Ocean. In the dedication to this work the great Russian scholar emphasized that “Russia stretches across the great expanses of the mainland but only has the one pier by the city of Archangel, and even that is recent, for it mostly sails internally along the great domestic rivers to circulate its riches among its own members….” while “the Northern Ocean is a vast field where Russian glory may intensify under the reign of Your Imperial Highness….”1 On the basis of this research Catherine the Great sent a secret edict to the Admiralty Collegium on May 14, 1764, ordering a search for the said passage. The expedition made two voyages in the summers of 1765 and 1766 and pioneered a sea route via the Arctic Ocean to Kamchatka.

Subsequently, the lands of the Russian North, and also the adjacent seas (Barents, White, and Kara) were assiduously studied by domestic explorers, most of them naval officers. However, practically till the end of the 19th century, the Russian authorities did not consider the Northern Sea Route (NSR) viable, nor did they pay due attention to the northern possessions being content with mere displays of the “flag and power” now and then.2 Thus, in 1893, a convoy of vessels was piloted from England to the Yenisey to deliver materials and rails for the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. The expedition proceeded flying the military flag and was to show to Western powers that this country had interests in the Arctic.3

In Russia, the legal basis for including Arctic islands and lands in its territory was the very fact of their discovery and official announcement of the event, which was a universally acknowledged phenomenon in the age of great geographical discoveries of the 15th-16th centuries. But already in the 19th century, it became customary for states claiming new territorial acquisitions to show intention to extend their sovereignty to the land in question. That could be done by hoisting a national flag, or putting up the country’s emblem or some other symbol.4 It was assumed that these measures, as well as periodical reinforcement of the guards at the sea waters contiguous to the Russian northern coast protecting them against rapacious extraction of marine resources, was perfectly adequate for rendering one’s borders inviolable. The inclement Arctic conditions were one of the major factors for polar states that ultimately ensured simplified protection of the northern frontiers; they did not have to exercise permanent control over the islands and lands as no one expected a real foe to attack from that direction.

By the end of the 19th century and until World War I issues of security for its northern frontiers had again become relevant to the Russian Empire as they were vulnerable to powerful navies of prospective adversaries (above all, Britain, and once the Kiel Canal had been constructed in Germany, that country as well). In this context St. Petersburg took steps to develop the northern theater of operations and prepare the necessary infrastructure. Thus, a city of Alexandrovsk was founded in the Catherine Harbor of the Kola Bay in 1899, and a Navy ship from the Baltic Sea started seasonal patrolling of the northern waters.

In the course of the polar expedition on board the Yermak, the first Russian icebreaker, organized by Rear Admiral S.O. Makarov in 1901, the Barents and Kara Seas were comprehensively studied and a vast body of information was gathered about the area, plus a map of Novaya Zemlya was compiled. The outstanding naval theoretician advocated development of the domestic icebreaker fleet, and was among the first to justify the strategic importance of the Arctic for Russia, both in military and economic terms.

Furthering the new trend in the interests of security in the North opened great opportunities for efficient use of its naval communications. This in turn whipped up the development of construction projects for building northern naval bases and a system of defense strongholds on the coast.5

There is one more interesting fact that points to the change in the views of Russia’s top state and military leadership on the region’s military security. In July 1902, the then War Minister, Adjutant-General A.N. Kuropatkin, personally inspected the Solovki Monastery. After the visit they resolved to abolish the monastery prison and supply the cloister with artillery and small arms. Setting up a defense post was conditioned by the convenient geographical location of the archipelago in the western part of the White Sea, so the garrison could cramp the style of adversary ships on the coast of the Archangel Province.6

A logical sequence of the policy of the North intense development for military purposes was the formation of the Arctic Ocean Hydrographic Expedition by the Naval Ministry in August 1910. It consisted of specially constructed icebreaker-type troopships, the Taimyr and the Vaigach, each with a military crew. The expedition made a significant contribution to the exploration of the Arctic basin (they discovered the Land of Nicholas II (Severnaya Zemlya) and the Tsarevich Aleksei Islands (Lesser Taimyr). It marked the start of systematic studies of the Arctic theater of operations. The Navy had for the first time entered the Arctic Ocean ice.

The achievements of seamen in the Arctic region required legalization on the part of the diplomatic corps. Thus, in 1916, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire, in a special circular note, notified foreign governments that the “territories and islands located in the Arctic Ocean and discovered by Vilkitsky (1913-1914) have been incorporated in the Russian Empire.”7 Thus, the Russian government announced that Russia’s ownership of Novaya Zemlya and other islands in the vicinity of its European coast had been recognized for centuries.

A radical regrouping of foreign-trade relations caused by the outbreak of WWI made the routes via the Barents and White Seas the only communication channel between the Russian Empire and its allies. To improve the connection of the Port of Archangel, which had become an outlet to Europe, with Russia’s inland areas, the Archangel-Vologda railroad was reconstructed in 1915 (with the narrow gauge replaced by a broad one). Yet these measures appeared insufficient for handling the increasing amounts of export and import cargo. So the construction of a seaport was urgently launched on the ice-free Murman coast, Romanov-on-Murman, to be later linked to Petrograd by a railroad.

At the time, the normative-legal base of military activity by the state in the Arctic continued to improve. Thus, the Maritime Ministry drafted a provision on guarding cargo bound for northern ports. This document was the first to define the tasks of the naval forces in the North. The only point of the Navy’s activity in northern waters was to provide the safety of navigation from combat activity by the adversary, i.e. mobile defense.

Therefore, in summer 1914, efforts were taken to organize sea defense of Archangel, and once the war started, as internally shipments increased and the German Navy stepped up activity in the northern waters, it was urgently necessary to set up combat formations of the Russian Navy there. The extended plan of building up naval forces in the North was worked out by the Navy General Staff in early 1916. The tasks of the newly formed flotilla included piloting merchant ships behind minesweepers through mine obstacles, protecting convoys against attacks by light and auxiliary cruisers and submarines of the enemy, and also defending ports and coasts.8 The Arctic Ocean flotilla was set up in July 1916, and on the whole its vessels were capable of ensuring security for sea travel in the North. The creation of the flotilla was not part of prewar plans; it was done in haste to help support ally shipments.

When setting up the flotilla, the shortcomings of the coast infrastructure needed for furthering the Navy forces were revealed in full. Russia’s efforts to build seaports and organize railroad communication of the North with the country’s central parts proved inadequate and untimely. As a result, the ports of Archangel and Murmansk had by 1918 been glutted with military consignments that had not been moved out. The desire of the allies to take these reserves under control and prevent them from getting into Germany’s hands after Soviet Russia had concluded the Brest Litovsk Peace Treaty became one of the reasons for the Anglo-American intervention in Russia’s North. In this respect, the northern outposts proved to be not only outlets for keeping in touch with the allies, but also became bridgeheads of sorts through which foreign powers interfered in the Civil War in Russia.9 The naval forces located in the North proved unable to ensure military security of the Soviet Russia in 1918-1920.

In the 1920s, the weakened Soviet state was confronted with the need to effectively maintain its sovereignty over the Arctic periphery, including by military methods. The critical shortage of communications linking the North and the country’s center encouraged the foreign powers’ attempts to seize the Arctic outskirts. These events christened by political journalists the first Arctic race resulted in a sectoral system of Arctic possessions division among the Arctic countries.

In October 1920, Soviet Russia and Finland concluded a peace treaty to fix the borders of the countries that in part ran through the polar regions. The Russian representatives had to hand over to Finland almost all of the Pechenga Volost (the Petsamo area), the western part of Rybachy Peninsula, and the better half of Sredny Peninsula. The Finnish side, meanwhile, undertook to desist from keeping larger military surface ships and any submarines in the waters adjacent to its northern coast.10 Further concessions helped Russia establish diplomatic relations with yet another northern country, Norway. In early 1924, the Soviet Union recognized the new status of the Spitzbergen Archipelago that passed under Norwegian sovereignty in accordance with the 1920 Paris Conference resolutions.

The thing that had considerable repercussions in the eastern section of the Arctic was an international incident related to the removal of a group of American Eskimos from Wrangel Island by the crew of the Soviet Red October gunboat in August 1924; the Eskimos had been sent there to effect unlawful colonization. In order to finally curb attempts at the island seizure that London and Washington persisted in, a group of Soviet colonizers was landed there with Arctic explorer G.A. Ushakov at the head.11

The risk of political and legal seizure of Russian Arctic territories that increased owing to the country’s weakness predetermined the Soviet leadership’s decision to declare all the lands and islands of the Arctic Ocean (both already discovered and those that might be discovered in the future) Soviet territory within the sector between longitudes 32°4’35” east (border with Finland) and 168°49’30” west (Russian-US border under the 1867 treaty) barring Spitzbergen.12

Steady control over the northern polar expanses made sure that the Soviet Union could carry out several major tasks, above all provision of security for the lengthy northern border of the state. Having marked the Soviet Arctic sector boundaries, the government took every possible measure to finalize the territorial objects within them that could provoke international disputes. To this end, largescale expeditions involving the Navy forces were undertaken to explore Novaya Zemlya, Franz-Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya, and also Victoria Island, the westernmost Arctic territory with the Soviet flag flying over it.13

During the prewar five-year periods the defensive capabilities of the country’s northern areas were steadily improved. It was perfectly in order that the issue of setting up a permanent naval formation in the Soviet North was raised. On February 20, 1931, Joseph Stalin forwarded to the Politburo a memo, On Guarding the Northern Coast. The document stated the need to create a powerful naval base on Kola Peninsula upon completing the construction of the White Sea – Baltic Sea Canal.14 The Defense Commission attached to the Council of People’s Commissars (CPC) of the Soviet Union used the memo as the basis for passing several important resolutions on furthering and ensuring security in the Arctic sector. A major element of military security provision in the Soviet Arctic was the creation in 1933 of the Northern Flotilla that in 1937 was reorganized as the Northern Fleet. Another no less important trend in this activity was setting up stations and winter quarters on the coast and islands of the Arctic Ocean. A significant role in translating these plans into reality belonged to the Main Directorate of the Northern Sea Route (MDNSR) established under the Council of the People’s Commissars at the end of 1932.15

However, the interbellum period and the great development of the Arctic sector therein did not last long. With the outbreak of World War II the fighting that unfolded over the Arctic expanses was no less dogged and fierce than that on the European theaters of operations.

The Germans had originally staked a lot on the Arctic, where, apart from the Kola Peninsula with Soviet naval bases, they intended to get access to the rich natural resources of the North.16 Before he embarked on Plan Barbarossa, Hitler counseling his generals came up to a big map on the wall and pointed at Murmansk. That was the only ice-free seaport in the U.S.S.R. from which military freight could travel from Great Britain and the US to the Soviet-German front by the strategic Kirov railroad. Moreover, the Soviet 14th Army could strike from the Murmansk area at Petsamo and the nickel mines vital to the German military industry.17

Still, the experience of WWI clearly suggesting that in the coming 20th century the Arctic would become an area of intense transportation, economic, and military activities failed to be fully made use of by the Soviet military-political leadership in the interwar period. This is borne out in one way or another by several circumstances that emerged in the course of the Great Patriotic War.

First, the Northern Fleet was not big enough at the start of the war to be up to the threats that appeared in the Arctic region. Meanwhile, in the North the Navy affected the course of combat in the maritime sector more than at other TOWs. The maritime areas of the Arctic Zone were unfit for starting up action by large Ground Forces groupings. Combat actions proved to be heavily dependent on sea shipments.

Second, as before, the nature of fighting at the Northern Maritime Theater was determined by the fight for communications that the domestic Navy was unable to conduct single-handed. Under the agreement signed by the Soviet government, the Allies’ assistance consisted in their troopship fleet and naval forces participating in activity at our Northern Maritime Theater. The importance of the Northern Fleet in supporting external sea communications rose by the year as its strength increased, yet the principal role was played by the Allies.18

At the same time, the Northern Fleet managed to solve unaided the no less important problem of ensuring security for internal communications that went along the Kola Bay-White Sea-Arctic, the Yokanga-Novaya Zemlya routes, and others. The support of shipments took the form of convoy operations. Polar convoys with combat equipment and weapons hugged the ice edge, and still suffered aerial attacks from enemy aircraft.

In the course of the war, as the sides built up the forces and assets on the theater of operations, the fighting areas spread north until Spitzbergen and east to the Vilkitsky Strait. This prompted the Soviet military to form the Novaya Zemlya naval base with the core basing in the Belushya and Kara Bays; the base forces were deployed on Dikson Island.19 By taking measures to increase the safety of convoys, the Soviet command managed to frustrate the attempt of the enemy to disrupt shipments along the Northern Sea Route. In all, during the war over 2,500 vessels were piloted along the Arctic communication routes of which the enemy contrived to sink a mere 18.

In the harsh conditions of the North, in the course of the war, Soviet troops conducted defensive and offensive operations, the largest of them the Petsamo-Kirkenes affair. Once again, the strategic role of seaports Murmansk and Archangel, was confirmed in full, as was the exceptional importance of the Soviet Arctic sector and the NSR for the country’s defense capability.

The experience of routing the Nazi German troops in the Polar regions has a major military theoretical significance. For instance, the Petsamo-Kirkenes operation became the only strategic offensive by the Soviet Armed Forces beyond the Arctic Circle. Its success emphasized a most important postulate about the need of active interservice interaction, without which it is impossible to achieve decisive success under the conditions of the Polar TOW.

The military-political leadership of the Soviet Union realized already in the course of World War II the fact that difficult physical and geographical conditions of the Arctic had ceased being a reliable shield covering the state from the North. While the anti-Hitler coalition was in existence, the ideological differences between the U.S.S.R. and the Western countries receded into the background, but already in 1945, a U-turn started to take shape in international relations directly linked to the results of the war. Coming to the fore were contradictions between the Western powers with the United States at the head and the Soviet Union, primarily those of a political and military nature. At the Arctic TOW new military threats surfaced logically and naturally. Under conditions of the bipolar world standoff, the Arctic Ocean waters and the air space over them were viewed by both parties as the shortest route for nuclear weapon carriers.

Plans of dealing a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union excited the minds of the US leadership ever since the fall 1945. Shortly afterward the Joint Forces Command Committee issued Directive 432/D of December 14, 1945, under which the only weapon that the US could effectively use for a crippling blow on major Soviet centers was nuclear bombs delivered by long-range aircraft.20 It was assumed that the unquestionable technological superiority of US industry against the Soviet counterpart and the US experience of aerial war against Germany and Japan would allow the United States to conduct war on its own terms. Overland warfare, in turn, was viewed as a war on Soviet terms.

These military-theory views underlay the strategy of massive retaliation based on use of strategic aircraft.21 In essence, it was recognition of the exclusive role of nuclear aerial strikes against vital Soviet centers by the shortest, poorly defended, and therefore, the most accessible sectors via the Arctic areas. Thus, for instance, the Hoybuktmoen Airfield in the region of Kirkenes (Norway) was a mere 150 km from Murmansk, 230 km to 260 km from Monchegorsk and Kirovsk 1,100 km from Leningrad, 1,600 km from Moscow, and 2,100 km from Sverdlovsk the center of the Urals.

The United States and its allies were preparing areas in Alaska, Greenland and other Arctic regions as bridgeheads for attacking the Soviet Union and other countries of the socialist bloc. Importantly, it was precisely the Americans who were the first to set up military facilities in the Arctic intended for a prospective attack against the U.S.S.R. and thus invigorated bipolar confrontation. Subsequently, both parties viewed the Arctic as a potential theater of operations as they created and developed military infrastructure on the Arctic Ocean coast and adjoining territories.

Whereas prior to the Great Patriotic War only the southern parts of Arctic seas were considered for combat areas, with the onset of the Cold War standoff, the TOW was considerably expanded northward. The appearance of the US postwar Arctic Strategy showed that all of the Arctic regions might be engulfed in fighting. Not only did this circumstance point to the enhanced significance of the Polar regions, but it also set a new task of all-round exploration of these areas and research into the problems of hostilities there before the domestic Armed Forces.

In order to ensure the security of the Soviet Arctic sector, the military-political leadership implemented a number of important measures in the first decade of the Cold War. First, in 1948, they initiated the practice of secret high-latitude aerial expeditions code-named North aimed at discovering the possibilities of combat aircraft and Ground Forces basing and activity on the Arctic Ocean ice and coast.22 Second, numerous specifically formed airfield construction battalions were sent to the Arctic to build a network of unpaved Arctic airfields in permafrost conditions.23

Simultaneously, they tackled the problem of doing away with the US nuclear monopoly by means of making new-generation weapons and equipment for their delivery via the Arctic. By the early 1960s, the Arctic had already had no fewer than 16 airfields in operation, including the northernmost airfield of the Soviet Union, Nagurskoye on Alexandra Land within Franz-Josef Land. Fighter aircraft and heavy bombers regularly took off from the Arctic runways to patrol the area; they ensured the necessary strategic containment of the NATO air forces.24 These measures considerably improved the combat capabilities of the Soviet Air Force.

Since the 1960s, the center of gravity in the Cold War standoff was shifted from the Arctic air space to the Arctic Ocean waters. The process was conditioned by the factor of perfecting intercontinental ballistic missiles and the increasing role of nuclear submarines as a means of delivering this kind of weapon.

By then, the world’s first US nuclear submarines, the USS Nautilus, the USS Skate, and the USS Sargo, had already acquired the priceless experience of underice voyages to the North Pole and took up regular Arctic navigation (underice operations), including for sneaking into Soviet territorial waters. Already by the 1970s, half of the US strategic nuclear missile potential had been concentrated on the submarine and aircraft carrier forces of the Navy. At the height of the Cold War, the US Navy conducted systematic events aimed at exploring the possibility of using Arctic areas as a strategic position for dealing nuclear missile strikes at Soviet vital centers from nuclear submarines.

Again the Soviet Union had to respond symmetrically to the emergent threats. As in case of nuclear arms development, the Soviet Union was forced to catch up with the United States in the making of the first nuclear submarine, since that country had constructed and put into operation the first nuclear-powered sub four to five years earlier. When the first domestic NSM K-3 Leninsky Komsomol was built in 1958, it was a major science-and-technology achievement, which took care of improving the defensive capability of the country at the Arctic TOW and of doing away with the adversary’s monopoly in this area.

In 1962, the Northern Fleet had five Type 658 nuclear-powered submarines with ballistic missiles and Type 675 ones with cruise missiles; also, eight Type 627A torpedo nuclear subs. All of them were located at the Western Litsa base where the 1st Flotilla had been formed, that is the first formation of Soviet nuclear submarines under the command of Rear Admiral A.I. Petelin.25

Until 1970, while the Soviet Armed Forces had strategic missile sub-cruisers of Type 667A equipped with operational-tactical missiles (range of action from 2,400 km to 3,000 km), these vessels used to sail from the Barents Sea to the US eastern coast, where they were on combat duty keeping targets in North America under threat of attack. After Class 667B strategic submarines had been put into operation with R-29 intercontinental ballistic missiles whose effective range was 7,800 km the need to hug the US eastern coast owing to insufficient range of action disappeared. Deploying submarines north of the Ferrero-Iceland line, the Soviet Union could, if necessary, strike at any target in Europe or North America. Therefore, the Northern Fleet moved its strategic forces away to the Arctic waters.

As the number of submarines armed with long-range ballistic missiles continued to increase, the Soviet Navy took up the so-called bastion concept, i.e. expanded internal defensive zones, both for the Northern and for the Pacific Fleets. Besides, the Soviet Union improved the strategy of antisubmarine defense with a view to preventing the penetration of US submarines into these zones. Once the concept was in effect, the strategic significance of the Arctic seas had increased further.

At the final stage of the Cold War, by 1990, the Northern Fleet that included the 1st and the 3rd Flotillas of nuclear-powered submarines, had 38 nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles of the 79 multipurpose submarines within the Navy. Quite a few of them were on combat duty. These submarines were armed with 940 ballistic missiles and a total of 2,804 nuclear warheads, which constituted a substantial proportion of the nuclear potential of the Soviet Armed Forces, being a powerful deterrent for any prospective aggressor.26

The disintegration of the Soviet Union resulted in the degradation of Arctic policies in the new Russia of the 1990s. The transformation of the state system and economy, the absence of proper political will and funding weakened all the constituents of the country’s Arctic complex. The profound comprehensive crisis the country had been plunged into necessitated an absolute minimum of defensive sufficiency to be maintained in the Armed Forces. On the Arctic islands AD units were disbanded, airfields along the northern coast from the Kola Peninsula to Chukotka were closed down or abandoned. Starting from 1992 and until the 2000s, just one heavy bomber was manufactured for the air component of the Strategic Nuclear Forces; the Navy in the same period received not a single nuclear missile submarine (NMS). A good few of the Russian nuclear-powered subs were actually removed from the Navy effectives; the others were in need of serious repairs. For instance, despite the fact that by January 1, 1997, according to official data, the Russian Navy had 42 NMS with ballistic missiles, a mere 27 were up to being on combat duty.27 In this connection, the Northern Fleet shifted its activity from the vast areas of the Northern Atlantic to the home shores. The task of global standoff with the US Navy in the Global Ocean ceased to exist.

In fact, it was not until the 2000s that the new leaders of the country realized how disastrous things were in the Russian Arctic. Within months of his inauguration, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, delivered a speech in Murmansk in which he laid particular stress on the fact that the forgotten northern frontiers of the state have fundamental significance for Russia’s development.28 In the course of his further work, the President said repeatedly that concentrated in the Arctic were practically all aspects of national security: military-political, economic, technological, environmental, and resource.29

The further course of events in the Arctic region amply bore out these words. In the military-doctrinal context, national security includes the defense of the country and all kinds of security, above all military, which is ensured by a combination of forces, assets, and resources available to the state. Thus, with regard to the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation (AZRF) provision of national security has become the nucleus and major priority of today’s Arctic policies of the state.

In conditions of the new geopolitical situation in the world, the Russian Federation has embarked on devising an Arctic policy that is acquiring the necessary systemic quality. Fundamental documents were promptly worked out and approved; they specified the goals, tasks, strategic priorities, and mechanisms of the policy implementation.* Thus, the RF Arctic Policy Framework for the Period up to 2020 and for the Longer Term (2008) outlines five objectives of the state’s Arctic activities, the most important of which is security provision. In 2013-2014, the strategy and state development program were approved for the Arctic, and the makeup of the AZRF overland territories was defined. These documents helped present the Arctic as a self-contained target of state strategic planning, and raised the potential of ensuring national (military) security in the country’s north.

In July 2001, the RF President approved the Naval Doctrine of the Russian Federation until 2020, and in 2003 the State Council of Russia passed the Transport Strategy of the Russian Federation until 2020. On September 18, 2008, the Fundamentals of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic until 2020 and Further was approved.

Exceptionally great attention was paid to the buildup of military possibilities in the Arctic, to which end the Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command was set up in December 2014. The measure affected significantly the geopolitical situation being a vivid example of success in protecting the interests of the country in the vast ocean zone.

It should be said that the options of general-purpose forces employment defined by military science are presently substantially restricted in the Arctic conditions. To ensure military security, modern military-theory views suggest the need to use in this area variously made up interservice groupings, as long as there is uniformity and flexibility of control.30 To create this kind of opportunity, the military-political leadership exerted considerable efforts over the last few years.

To use the troops and forces in the Arctic conditions, the important thing is to develop the military infrastructure. Its major elements are the points of tactical group basing, the Arctic Trefoil, the Northern Clover, and the Polar Star. Currently, the Russian Ministry of Defense is building 16 seaports in the Arctic, and is reactivating, restoring, and reconstructing 19 northern airfields.

Considering the tasks conditioned by the increased importance of the Arctic for Russia, the strategic component of the Northern Fleet is being vigorously strengthened. Taken into account there is the economic and military significance of the NSR that provides the shortest sea route from Europe to Southeast Asia, and also intertheater force maneuvering with a view to building up the efforts in the right operational sector.

Historical experience points to the exceptional importance of making the AZRF accessible to transport. It is this segment that has always been a most vulnerable point in the Arctic policy of the state. Therefore, in conditions of military construction, it is necessary to pay especial attention to equipping Arctic groupings with amphibian dual-purpose means intended, along with carrying out military assignments, for national economic transportation and search and rescue work under conditions of the Far North.

The present-day military-political situation in the Arctic appears to be stable and predictable. However, in order to prevent would-be external threats to national security looming large in the 21st century, the Russian Federation continues to build up its military potential in the region.


1. Lomonosov, M.V., Trudy po russkoy istoriyi, obshchestvemio-ekonomicheskim voprosam i geografiyi. 1747-1765 gg. [The Works on Russian History, Socioeconomic Issues and Geography. 1747-1765], Vol. 6, Moscow-Leningrad, 1952, pp. 420-422.

2. Filin, P.A., Yemelina, M.A., and Savinov, M.A., Voyenno-strategicheskoye znacheniye Severnogo morskogo puti: istoricheskiy aspekt [The Military-Strategic Importance of the Northern Sea Route: A Historical Aspect], Voyemio-istoricheskiy zhurnal, # 7, 2019, p. 8.

3. Semenkovich, V.N., Sever Rossiyi v voyenno-morskom i kommercheskom otnosheniyakh [The North of Russia Viewed from a Naval and Commercial Angles]. Works by research section of the Military History Institute, Vol. 6, Book 1, Sever Rossiyi v voyenno-morskom i kommercheskom otnosheniyakh, St. Petersburg, 2012, p. 206.

4. Savaskov, P.V., Pravovoy rezhim Arktiki [The Legal Order of the Arctic], Arktika: zona mira i sotrudnichestva [The Arctic, an Area of Peace and Cooperation], 2011, p. 29.

5. See, Mikhailov, A.A., Problemy voyenno-morskogo bazirovaniya v Arktike (1880-1890 gg.) [Issues of Naval Basing in the Arctic (1880-1890)], Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnal, # 5, 2016, pp. 10-17.

6. Sergiyevsky, I.A., Podgotovka Solovetskogo monastyrya k oborone v nachale XX veka [Preparing the Solovki Monastery for Defense at the Beginning of the 20th Century], Vestnik Severnogo (Arkticheskogo) Federal’nogo Universiteta [Bulletin of the Northern (Arctic) Federal University], # 3, 2017, pp. 24-25.

7. Davydov, B., Vtiskakh l’da. Plavaniye kanlodki “Krasniy Oktyabr'” naostrov Vrangelya [In the Grip of Ice. The Voyage of the Red October Gunboat to Wrangel Island], Leningrad, 1925. p. 7.

8. Bykov, P.D., Voyenniye deystviya na Severnom russkom morskom teatre v imperialisticheskuyu voynu 1914-1918 gg. [Hostilities at the Northern Russian Theater of Naval Operations in the Imperialist War of 1914-1918], St. Petersburg, 2003, p. 27.

9. Zubkov, K.I. and Karpov, V.P., Razvitiye rossiyskoy Arktiki: sovetskiy opyt v kontekste sovremennykh strategiy [Development of the Russian Arctic: The Soviet Experience in the Context of Modern Strategies], Moscow, 2019, pp. 52-53.

10. The U.S.S.R. Foreign Policy Documents, Vol. 3, Moscow, 1959, p. 268.

11. Russian State Economic Archives (RSEA), Folio 9570, List 2, File 89, Sheet 109.

12. Resolution by the U.S.S.R. Central Executive Committee Presidium of April 15, 1926 On Declaring the Lands and Islands Located in the Arctic Ocean Territory of the Union of SSR, Bulletin of the U.S.S.R. CEC and the All-Russia CEC. April 16, 1926.

13. Ostrovsky, B.G., Sovetskaya Arktika [The Soviet Arctic], Leningrad, 1931, pp. 79, 91.

14. Russian State Archives of Sociopolitical History (RSASPH), Folio 17, List 162, File 9, Sheet 138.

15. Bocharov, A.A. and Mikhailov, A.A., Rossiya i Arktika. Mezhdunarodno-pravoviye i voyenniye aspekty oformleniya granits rossiyskogo arkticheskogo sektora v 1920-kh – nachale 1930-kh godov [Russia and the Arctic. The International Law and Military Aspects of Legalizing the Russian Arctic Sector in the 1920s-1930s], Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnal, # 9, 2018, p. 11.

16. Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg. Der Angriff auf die Sowjetunion. Bd. 4 Stuttgart, 1983, S. 1211.

17. Mann, C. and Jфrgensen, C, Hitler’s Arctic War: The German Campaigns in Norway, Finland, and the U.S.S.R. 1940-1945, Barnsley, 2016, p. 70.

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid., p. 248.

20. Orlov, A.S., Vpoiskakh “absolyutnogo” oruzhiya [Looking for the “Absolute” Weapon], Moscow, 1989, pp. 115-116.

21. Zolotarev, V.A., Uroki voyennoy bezopasnosti Gosudarstva Rossiyskogo [Security Lessons of the Russian State], Moscow, 2019, pp. 82-83.

22. RSEA, Folio 9570, List 4, File 237, pp. 129-130.

23. RSASPH, Folio 475, List 1, File 46, Sheet 4.

24. Semenov, V.N., Kholodnoye nebo. Aviatsiya v osvoyeniyi rossiyskogo Severa i Arktiki [The Cold Sky. Aviation in the Development of the Russian North and the Arctic], St. Petersburg, p. 176.

25. Usenko, N.V., Kaksozdavalsya atomniy podvodniy flot Sovetskogo Soyuza [How the Nuclear Submarine Fleet of the Soviet Union Was Created], Moscow, 2004, pp. 162, 164-165.

26. Tri veka Rossiyskogo flota [Three Centuries of the Russian Navy], St. Petersburg, 1996, Vol. 3, p. 311.

27. Strategicheskoye yadernoye vooruzheniye Rossiyi [The Strategic Nuclear Armaments of Russia], Ed. by P. Podvig, Moscow, 1998, p. 212.

28. Ivchenko, B.P. and Shamakhov, V.A., Obespecheniye natsional’noy bezopasnosti v Arkticheskoy zone Rossiyskoy Federatsiyi [Providing National Security in the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation], St. Petersburg, 2019, p. 6.

29. Session of the Security Council on Implementing the State Policy in the Arctic of April 22, 2014. URL: http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/20845 (Retrieved on June 20, 2020.)

30. Khmelnov, I.N., Primeneniye Voyenno-morskogo flota dlya obespecheniya bezopasnosti razvitiya Arkticheskogo regiona [Using the Navy to Ensure the Safety of the Arctic Region Development], Bulletin of the Academy of Military Sciences, # 2 (63), 2018, p. 62.