Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 418

418 Arctic Yearbook 2014 2”), which is located on the peninsula Gusinaya Zemlya (part of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago), and has started to restore its airfield “Temp” on Kotelny Island near the city of Norilsk. It is also overhauling urban facilities in Tiksi, Naryan-Mar, and Anadyr. Additionally, seven airstrips on the continental part of the Arctic Circle are planned to be reopen. The location of these islands is strategic as it enables Russia to control the entire region (Muhin 2013; RT 2013). Besides infrastructure, the Kremlin also seeks to reinforce its military. Russia emphasizes the importance of maintaining a “necessary combat potential” in the North (Medvedev 2008a). President Putin supported this statement saying that Russia needs to use every means to protect its national interests in the region. “Next year, we have to complete the formation of new large units and military divisions (in the Arctic)” (BBC News 2013; Ria Novosti 2014c). In March 2009, the Kremlin announced a plan for a special military force to protect Arctic interests. Later on (May 2011), it was reported that two Arctic special forces brigades had been unveiled, based at Pechenga on the Kola Peninsula. Despite the fact that the concrete status of these brigades still remains unclear, the first brigade should be the 200th Independent Motorised Rifle Brigade (200 IMRB), which was resubordinated from Ground Forces to the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet in 2012. It should receive modernized systems and upgraded equipment suited to the polar conditions, while retaining its existing armored vehicles and tanks. The whole process was planned to be completed by the end of 2011, however, as the Russian officials saw its limits to fulf