Finland inspects Russian Arctic Brigade

Russian Northern Fleet Vice-Admiral Vladimir Korolev is seen in Severomorsk, about 1,500 kilometers north of Moscow in July 2011. (AP Photo/Andrei Pronin)
Russian Northern Fleet Vice-Admiral Vladimir Korolev is seen in Severomorsk, about 1,500 kilometers north of Moscow in July 2011. (AP Photo/Andrei Pronin)
The Finnish Defence Command is starting a three-day evaluation visit to Alakurtti, the base for Russia’s new Arctic special forces.

The inspection will be headed by Colonel Marko Ekström, a press release from the Finnish Defence Command informs. Another two defence representatives will take part in the visit, which will take place in the period 13-16 October.

The visit will be first ever to Alakurtti by a foreign delegation since the town became a hub for the new Russian Arctic Brigade. It is conducted as part of the Vienna Document of 2011, the OSCE agreement aimed a providing confidence and security-building through inspections and exchange of information.

Ongoing development

The inspection takes place as the brigade returns home to base after a period of comprehensive training all over the Russian Arctic, including in the New Siberian Islandsand Novaya Zemlya.

The Alakurtti base has been under development for some time, but the unit, officially named the 80th Motorized Rifle Brigade, was formally opened in January 2015.

The town, which until 1940 was part of Finland, is located only about 50 km from the Finnish border. It has a population of about 7000. There is a railway line, which connects the town with the rest of the Russian rail grid, and a nearby air base which provides the base with air support.

Focus on Arctic survival, combat

As previously reported, different army and navy units have been based in Alakurttu over the years, but after 2009 the town was home mainly to civilians and border guards. Starting in fall 2014, parts of the base were modernized, and the first troops arrived in January 2015. They have since then been going through comprehensive training on combat and survival in Arctic conditions.

The base in Alakurtti will be completed with new warehouses, storages facilities for missiles and artillery ammunition, storages for oil and lubricants, barracks, administration buildings, a landing stripe and other needed infrastructure for a brigade of 3600 people.

The other Northern Fleet unit that is no called “Arctic” is the 200. Independent Motor Rifle Brigade, located in Pechenga close to the border to Norway. The brigade became part of the Northern Fleet’s ground forces in December 2012.

Related stories from around the North:

Finland:  Finland’s military sets up rapid deployment force: report, Yle News

Iceland: U.S. military could return to Iceland, Barents Observer

Norway: Despite chill, Norway will pay for Russian military navigation mar, Barents Observer

Russia:  Russian military transport aircraft suspected of violating Finnish airspace, Yle News

Sweden:  Activists arrested in Sweden during Arctic military exercise, Radio Sweden

United States:  U.S. general says Alaska military cuts not final without Arctic plan, Alaska Public Radio Network


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