Russian Troops Stationed Near Finnish Border as Putin Begins Move on Arctic

Russian Mig-31, May 29, 2013A detachment of about 800 servicemen from Russia’s Northern Fleet has been stationed in the Russian town of Alakurtti, Murmansk region, just 50km from the Finnish border, part of a large-scale expansion of Russian military facilities in the country’s northwest according to a press statement issued by the unit’s commanding admiral Vladimir Korolev on Tuesday.

The rest of the fleet are expected to be stationed there “soon” according to Korolev. The base will be one of the key strongholds in Russia’s northernmost territories, designed to strengthen the country’s defence capabilities from the west, and improve their territorial claims over areas in the Arctic.

At full force, Russia’s Northern Fleet consists of about 3,000 ground troops trained for combat in Arctic conditions, along with 39 ships and 45 submarines. Its arrival in Murmansk follows Russia’s decision last year to create a united command for all of its units designated with protecting Russia’s interests in the country’s northern regions.

According to Korolev, only one of the two commissioned barracks in the town are operational at the moment, with the other still under construction. Once the facilities are complete, Northern Fleet troops will begin combat training in Alakurtti.

14 airfields are also expected to be built in the new base, according to Korolev, with 10 of them due to be opened “in a matter of months.”

The servicemen taking up the stations in the military town on Tuesday constitute the motor rifle brigade – a coastal defense unit from the Northern Fleet’s ranks.

Image: Russian Mig-31, May 29, 2013 (photo: Olga Balashova/Russian Ministry of Defense)