WW3 fears as Russia slams ‘provocative’ US military moves in Arctic circle

Russia has fuelled World War Three fears after accusing the US military of “provocative” activity in the Arctic.

The head of the country’s Northern Fleet claimed it is the biggest since the 1940s, during World War Two.

Moscow has a military base at Franz Josef Land, a group of Russian islands in the Arctic Ocean, which is less than 600miles below the North Pole.

According to the BBC, it is adding to tensions between Vladimir Putin's Kremlin and the West.

Russia’s military presence in the region is now said to be growing bigger than it has been since the Cold War.

The Franz Josef Land site has Bastion missile launchers and an airfield where all types of planes can land all year round.

One soldier told claimed the missile systems are “effective” and are there to “destroy enemy ships”.

Troops have to deal with -50C cold in the winter, and have to drive out in their vehicles to scatter the polar bears which occasionally head up to the base.

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General Igor Churkin compared the base, which is painted in the colours of the Russian flag, to a “space station” as it is so high-tech.

Alexander Moiseyev, commander of the Northern Fleet, claimed the US and Nato have been carrying out activities in the Arctic which heightened the risk of conflict.

He told the BBC: “There haven't been so many of their forces here for years. Decades. Not since World War Two.

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"We see such activity as provocative so close to the Russian border where we have very important assets.

“By that, I mean nuclear forces."

Earlier this year, three nuclear submarines from Russia’s Northern Fleet smashed through the ice at the same time during Arctic exercises.

A pair of fighter jets also made their way over the north Pole and refuelled in mid-air.

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Lev Voronkov, an Arctic expert from Russia’s MGIMO university, claimed the country was trying to protect its borders and not threaten anyone.

The melting ice cap means Russia’s northern border is becoming more exposed as its natural defence disappears, CNN reports.

A senior US State Department official told the channel: "There's clearly a military challenge from the Russians in the Arctic.”

The US Pentagon also said the Kremlin is refurbishing old Arctic airfields, constructing new ports and building up its fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers.

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