Russia flexes military might with reindeer sleighs

Russian servicemen from the Northern Fleet's Arctic mechanised infantry brigade in a military drill, using reindeer and dog sleds, outside Murmansk, last week. Under President Vladimir Putin, Moscow is rushing to reopen abandoned Soviet military, air
PHOTO: REUTERS

Russian servicemen from the Northern Fleet's Arctic mechanised infantry brigade in a military drill, using reindeer and dog sleds, outside Murmansk, last week.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Moscow is rushing to reopen abandoned Soviet military, air and radar bases on remote Arctic islands and build new ones, as it pushes ahead with a claim to almost half a million square miles of the Arctic. It regularly releases pictures of its troops training in white fatigues, wielding assault rifles as they zip around on sleighs pulled by reindeer.

The United States Geological Survey estimates that the Arctic holds oil and gas reserves equivalent to 412 billion barrels of oil, about 22 per cent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas.

Russia is building three nuclear icebreakers, including the world's largest, to bolster its fleet of around 40 breakers, six of which are nuclear. No other country has a nuclear breaker fleet, which is used to clear channels for military and civilian ships.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2017, with the headline 'Russia flexes military might with reindeer sleighs'. Print Edition | Subscribe