It’s Now Up To Donald Trump to Keep Growing Russian Forces In The Artic In Check.
As Putin steps up his presence in the region, a key Republican is pressuring the White House to prepare for an emerging battle for influence that Moscow is currently winning – in the Arctic.
Russia has been aggressively building up its fleet of ships monitoring Arctic waters while the U.S. has fallen far behind over the past eight years. Now California Republican Duncan Hunter, is leading the push for Trump to counter that influence by funding additional “icebreakers” for the U.S. Coast Guard, and drones to help the U.S. patrol the area.
As reported by Foxnews.com:
In a Feb. 21 letter to the White House, the chairman the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation argued the U.S. needs to project power in the region, and not let Russia roam unmatched.
“Not only have we not built a new icebreaker since the late 1970s, the Coast Guard is being forced to order parts online and cannibalize older vessels to maintain a minimum level of operability – just to operate a single heavy icebreaker,” he said.
Currently, the U.S. has two ice-breaking ships – only one is operational. Russia boasts more than 40, with 11 others in the pipeline including what would be the largest-ever such vessel constructed. It is aptly named, “Leader.”
The rush to construct new vessels follows the expansive thaw of Arctic ice which has enabled countries like Russia and China to break new passageways through those waters.
During a 2015 visit to the Arctic, former President Barack Obama called for the U.S. to expand its fleet. He reasoned that the U.S. risked losing control of shipping routes and fishing grounds if it didn’t keep up with the competition.
About 40 percent of the world’s oil and natural gas reserve also lies under the Arctic.
With so much at stake, Russia has reestablished Soviet-style military bases across the Arctic. It’s also begun building a string of search-and-rescue stations along its Arctic shores.
In June, Russia launched its biggest icebreaker to date. Named Arktika, the 567-foot vessel is unmatched in raw power and can smash a path through the ice of the Northern Sea Route. The mammoth, 33,000-ton ship is easily the world’s largest nuclear-powered icebreaker.
“There are no icebreakers equivalent to Arktika anywhere in the world,” Sergey Kirienko, former Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation CEO said in unveiling the ship last fall.
Duncan agrees and says such a disparity should be of “tremendous concern.”
“Russia is not just exceeding the U.S. in icebreaker production and Arctic presence, they’re in a class by themselves and setting a standard, supported by enhanced capability, that is unmatched,” the lawmaker wrote. “We must act with the same sense of urgency.”
They want to exceed the Arktika’s power, a tall task.
Arktika can break ice up to 2.9 meters (9.5 feet) thick and reach speeds of 22 knots. It’s fitted with a hangar capable of accommodating two choppers — one for ice reconnaissance and another for transportation. The Arktika was also built to be armed in wartime.
Arktika might be mammoth in size but it doesn’t hold a candle to Russia’s newest design. Named, “Leader,” the super-ship will be unveiled in 2019 and is three times the size of Arktika.”
Read more here: foxnews.com
VIDEO: Trump Under Pressure From GOP To Counter Russia’s Massive Arctic Fleet
sources: U.S. Coast Guard, Foxnews.com, Military.com