Russia’s Northern Fleet Commander Admiral Vladimir Korolyov said Monday that the country’s northernmost air defense base was now “fully combat-ready.” The air defense units are based on Alexander Island in the Frantz Joseph archipelago. Vladimir Korolyov told TASS news agency that the air defense units are capable of performing their “assigned missions.”

Russia's Arctic Air Defense Base Now 'Fully Combat-Ready'

Russia to build 13 aerodromes in the Arctic

Massive construction is still underway on the island to build a high-tech military compound to accommodate soldiers and weapons. The Northern Fleet commander claimed that no one has ever implemented a similar project at such a high latitude. The construction of modern closed-cycle military facilities is expected to be completed by next year. Russia’s revised naval doctrine sees the Arctic as a strategic priority.

According to TASS, Russia will build 13 aerodromes, 10 technical positions for radar units, and one aviation training range in the Arctic. The Russian defense ministry has already started creating seven aerodromes in the region. Moscow has deployed the highly-advanced S-400 air-defense missile system and Pantsir-S1 missile and gun complexes in the Arctic.

Russia to be a dominant power in resource-rich Arctic region

Moscow says it is strengthening its presence in the Arctic to counter NATO’s expansions along its borders in eastern Europe. According to the U.S. Army’s report published in August, Russia had been moving highly advanced and specially modified air defense systems in the Arctic. These weapons are capable of functioning at temperatures even below -58 degrees Fahrenheit.

The rapidly melting Arctic ice due to climate change has opened new shipping routes, making it easier to tap into the energy and minerals in the region. United States estimates that the Arctic seabed holds 30% of the world’s total natural gas deposits, 20% of the world’s LNG, and 15% of global oil deposits. Russia’s geographic location gives it an edge to become a dominant power in the region.