Tuesday, March 5, 2024

US Races to Secure Northern Most Territory as Russia – China Alliance Strengthens

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As the world grows more dangerous, U.S. lawmakers are pressing to secure a region often overlooked — the Arctic. 

With the Alaska Purchase in 1867, the U.S. became one of eight countries with territory above the Arctic Circle. Russia has the largest presence, and as its alliance with China strengthens, so does Beijing’s influence. 

“We are in a new era of authoritarian aggression led by Putin and Jinping. They are running hostile regimes that seek to control access to the Arctic region,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said during a recent hearing on why the U.S. Arctic strategy is vital to homeland security.

In the summer of 2022, China and Russia deployed their first joint naval task force of seven ships into Alaskan waters. It happened again last summer with 11 ships.

“This is a sign of things to come. We not only need more Coast Guard assets but also a Navy presence back in Alaska. We need to be able to respond more rapidly in the future to these kinds of incursions,” Sullivan told lawmakers.

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With sea ice receding, experts warn Arctic routes are more accessible than ever, and U.S. adversaries have built up Arctic capabilities and military facilities, leaving America in their wake. 

“The U.S. is very poorly positioned in order to defend its own sovereignty in the region, versus the Russians, which have invested heavily over the past couple of decades in basically trying to militarize the region,” The Heritage Foundation’s Daniel Kochis told CBN News.

The U.S. currently has only one operational polar ice breaker ship, which is uniquely designed to navigate the Arctic waters. Russia’s fleet has more than 50, and the Chinese are on pace to surpass the U.S. by 2025. Under pressure to keep up, the Coast Guard wants eight to nine more icebreakers in the region.

“We need your continued support to build out our polar security cutters and rapidly accelerate us into the future, where we can have greater capacity for icebreakers,” Coast Guard Vice Admiral, Peter Gautier told members of the Homeland Security Committee.

Lawmakers consider securing the Arctic an urgent critical need, and this year are authorizing roughly $168 million in military construction and equipment. 

With the region’s first deepwater port underway in Nome, Alaska, the goal is that infrastructure to handle large icebreakers and Navy destroyers will be in place by the end of the decade.

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