Russian August in the Arctic

August is a particular month in the Russian political calendar: It was the Kursk day last week, and this week – it is day of tanks in Prague (21 August 1968) and the day of tanks in Moscow (19-22 August 1991). These days, tanks are rolling over the streets of Donetsk and Luhansk – but the area where Moscow is extra-keen to show its military muscle is – odd as it may seem – the Arctic. Four Su-24 fighter-bombers have performed a special mission and reached the North Pole (with two refueling in the air) – but the report doesn’t say whether they have actually dropped a bomb there. This will hardly add credibility to the claim for expanding the limits of continental shelf, which is supposed to be re-submitted to the UN CLCS by the ed of this year (it was delayed for many years). The chance for this claim to be approved is slim, but Russia is making a big fuss about sending a naval oceanographic ship Admiral Vladimirsky along the Sevmorput with the mission for examining locations for new naval bases. Finnish and Norwegian border guards have less peace and quiet these days as Russian artillery units in the Kola peninsula are exercising their big guns – and are ordered to use five times more rounds than last year. Nobody in the Kremlin appears to have any reflections on the tanks in August – or indeed on the purpose of the one-sided arms race in the High North.Prague

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