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Russia's Arctic Expansion

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Old October 26th, 2015   #46
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A closer look at Russia's biggest Arctic construction project. This is a permanent base location for 150 service members, in the Arctic. The personnel are already there living in temporary housing. The permanent housing is 97% complete, the overall readiness of the facility is 60%. Details on what exactly it will house are not included, but I think this is an air defense post, possibly with some AShMs. This does not appear to be the same facility as I posted earlier on Kotelniy, as this is on the Zemlya Aleksandry island in the Zemlya Frantz Iosifa archipelago. In addition to housing, they're also building a pumping station to get fuel from tankers straight into the base fuel storage, and also erecting other technical objects.

««Сƒ€ов‹е» аэ€од€ом‹ - «А€к‚и‡еский ‚€илис‚ник» —емля Ф€ан†а-˜оси„а» в блоге «А€мия и Фло‚» - Сделано ƒ нас
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Old October 26th, 2015   #47
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A closer look at Russia's biggest Arctic construction project. This is a permanent base location for 150 service members, in the Arctic. The personnel are already there living in temporary housing. The permanent housing is 97% complete, the overall readiness of the facility is 60%. Details on what exactly it will house are not included, but I think this is an air defense post, possibly with some AShMs. This does not appear to be the same facility as I posted earlier on Kotelniy, as this is on the Zemlya Aleksandry island in the Zemlya Frantz Iosifa archipelago. In addition to housing, they're also building a pumping station to get fuel from tankers straight into the base fuel storage, and also erecting other technical objects.

««Суровые» аэродромы - «Арктический трилистник» Земля Франца-Иосифа» в блоге «Армия и Флот» - Сделано у нас
Feanor could Russia be seriously gearing up for war? What actually has caused this significant resurgence in Russian military expansion? At a time when arguably the US is taking a more moderate stance albeit bolstering defences in Europe after the Ukraine crisis. It seems to me that Russia has no real reason to be flexing it's muscles and getting into a rapid arms race that ultimately it is likely to lose for economic not necessarily technical reasons.

Here is the latest US military concern: Russian exploration vessels with the ability to cut internet and important military and undersea cables.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/wo...s-us.html?_r=0

This strikes me as extremely serious and hints at a possible Russian pre-emptive attack on the West.

What is this about? Is it oil and lost revenues causing economic desperation? Sanctions?

No NATO activity in the Ukraine or the Baltics should in my opinion be causing that much concern to Russia. Or am I wrong?
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Old October 26th, 2015   #48
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Feanor could Russia be seriously gearing up for war? What actually has caused this significant resurgence in Russian military expansion? At a time when arguably the US is taking a more moderate stance albeit bolstering defences in Europe after the Ukraine crisis. It seems to me that Russia has no real reason to be flexing it's muscles and getting into a rapid arms race that ultimately it is likely to lose for economic not necessarily technical reasons.
It's not so much a race, as it is sustained and long term development in the Arctic designed to provide Russia with ability to take, hold, and control land, sea, and air space. Note, nobody else is really rushing to build up infrastructure in the Arctic. And even the Russian construction projects are more about restoring some of the old Soviet bases then about a massive new capability. They're definitely working in the direction of being able to deploy troops throughout the Arctic, but again, not much of a race.

If you want more info, look at the 80th Motor-Rifles Brigade. They're the designated "tester" for new Arctic equipment. They're getting snowmobiles for their recon units (some of the first if not the first in the Russian Army) as well as other specialized vehicles.

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Here is the latest US military concern: Russian exploration vessels with the ability to cut internet and important military and undersea cables.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/wo...s-us.html?_r=0

This strikes me as extremely serious and hints at a possible Russian pre-emptive attack on the West.
Silliness ensues. Russia and the USSR have operated Autonomous Deepwater Stations (AGS in Russian) for a long time. Decades. They're deepwater nuclear submarines designed for special purposes. They've had this capability all along. The difference here lies not in new capabilities Russia has developed, but in a new vulnerability that has evolved over the past two decades with the proliferation of the internet.

GUGI has been around for a long time, and the consistent reference to their vessels as spy ships in the West is interesting.

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No NATO activity in the Ukraine or the Baltics should in my opinion be causing that much concern to Russia. Or am I wrong?
It certainly is comforting to Russian leadership to know that they could potentially physically attack some of the larger data communication cables but I doubt it's an actual response. Like I said, the capability isn't (or at least shouldn't be) new. Your own article mentions that the USN has had the ability to tap undersea cables for a while too. The difference between cutting and tapping on a technical level shouldn't be too great, though I may be wrong here (if a member with specific knowledge could assist it would be appreciated).
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Old October 26th, 2015   #49
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It's not so much a race, as it is sustained and long term development in the Arctic designed to provide Russia with ability to take, hold, and control land, sea, and air space. Note, nobody else is really rushing to build up infrastructure in the Arctic. And even the Russian construction projects are more about restoring some of the old Soviet bases then about a massive new capability. They're definitely working in the direction of being able to deploy troops throughout the Arctic, but again, not much of a race.

If you want more info, look at the 80th Motor-Rifles Brigade. They're the designated "tester" for new Arctic equipment. They're getting snowmobiles for their recon units (some of the first if not the first in the Russian Army) as well as other specialized vehicles.



Silliness ensues. Russia and the USSR have operated Autonomous Deepwater Stations (AGS in Russian) for a long time. Decades. They're deepwater nuclear submarines designed for special purposes. They've had this capability all along. The difference here lies not in new capabilities Russia has developed, but in a new vulnerability that has evolved over the past two decades with the proliferation of the internet.

GUGI has been around for a long time, and the consistent reference to their vessels as spy ships in the West is interesting.



It certainly is comforting to Russian leadership to know that they could potentially physically attack some of the larger data communication cables but I doubt it's an actual response. Like I said, the capability isn't (or at least shouldn't be) new. Your own article mentions that the USN has had the ability to tap undersea cables for a while too. The difference between cutting and tapping on a technical level shouldn't be too great, though I may be wrong here (if a member with specific knowledge could assist it would be appreciated).
Some interesting food for thought. It does appear that the US military is becoming increasingly concerned by what it sees as rapid Russian military expansionism, and of particular interest in my article is the Russian submarine activity.

So do you feel that the US Military officials are just scaremongering? Say trying to alert the administration to the need to perceived threats to justify more military spending?

One other thought came to mind as I was reading about US development in hypersonic missiles. Over the next few years I would think we are likely to see the US and NATO move ahead in capability with large numbers of F35's in service and also these hypersonic attack missiles. Russia are unlikely to be able to match this if their economy keeps on declining. Is this really what Russia is worried about?
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Old October 26th, 2015   #50
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Considering the pathetic neglect of the Canadian Arctic during the last two and half decades with worse to come, it should be no surprise that Russia would want to press its claims over what Canada considers to be its claim. Presence matters and we aren't there. Denmark and the US are paying attention to this neglect as well.
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Old October 26th, 2015   #51
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there have been warnings about russias change in attention to the north for the last 8 years - and increasing signs in the last 4 years

this is hardly that much of a surprise. its been interesting to see how much the canadians have been asleep at the wheel - even though some of the bigger alarm bells were ringing from their quarters

and yet they still can't make decisions.

when you compare what the russians are and have been doing re positioning , movements and builds, it makes a succession of can govts look pretty feckless
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Old October 27th, 2015   #52
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there have been warnings about russias change in attention to the north for the last 8 years - and increasing signs in the last 4 years

this is hardly that much of a surprise. its been interesting to see how much the canadians have been asleep at the wheel - even though some of the bigger alarm bells were ringing from their quarters

and yet they still can't make decisions.

when you compare what the russians are and have been doing re positioning , movements and builds, it makes a succession of can govts look pretty feckless
Totally agree!

Last edited by gf0012-aust; October 27th, 2015 at 07:02 AM. Reason: fixed my typo
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Old October 28th, 2015   #53
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With the government change in Canada, it's a great opportunity for the russians to advance their arctic agenda in the coming years.
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Old October 28th, 2015   #54
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With the government change in Canada, it's a great opportunity for the russians to advance their arctic agenda in the coming years.
Although I am not happy with the change in government, Canadian governments have had failing grades for Arctic policy since junior's old man was PM. The reason for this neglect is they know the Canadian electorate are apathetic in matters related to defence and 98% are within 500 miles of the US border.
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Old October 29th, 2015   #55
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It certainly is comforting to Russian leadership to know that they could potentially physically attack some of the larger data communication cables but I doubt it's an actual response. Like I said, the capability isn't (or at least shouldn't be) new. Your own article mentions that the USN has had the ability to tap undersea cables for a while too. The difference between cutting and tapping on a technical level shouldn't be too great, though I may be wrong here (if a member with specific knowledge could assist it would be appreciated).
Actually some of the Soviet subs would periodically go out and do things to the G-I-UK SOSUS late in the Cold War and/or in the immediate aftermath.

A friend of mine who served aboard a Los Angeles-class SSN commented once that it sounded like listening to a coffee grinder going. Apparently at one point his sub was so fed up with needing to 'chase' the Soviets away from the SOSUS line that they were contemplating parking their sub directly above the Soviet sub, and then discharging garbage canisters to see how the Soviets would react to having weighted metal containers start bouncing off their hull.

As for the there being a difference between cutting and tapping an undersea cable, yeah, there is quite a bit of difference. Cutting a cable is IMO fairly easy. Tapping, not so much.

To 'tap' an undersea cable, one needs to have a sensor or set of sensors which can detect the transmissions through the cable. This is difficult albeit possible with shielded cable transmitting RF signals. IIRC the USS Parche managed to attach a device to Soviet undersea cables that ran between the Soviet mainland, and military installations on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The device could read the RF transmissions and then was to be recovered later.

In a modern sense, either such a device would need to be able to relay the data retrieved, or someone/thing would need to be able to retrieve the device to analyze the collected data.

Making things more complicated is the fact that now some/all of these undersea cables are fiber optic, which means no RF signal to 'read'. In order to potentially 'tap' such a cable, a device would need to be able to 'see' the light transmissions through the cable. Do-able, but even more difficult. Never mind the sorts of alarm bells likely to go off when something attempts to tap such a line.

A standard fiber optic trunk line which a cable/telecom/ISP would use to connect an area can take hours to repair when they get damaged/cut. And this is talking about buried/UG lines which can be dug up, and have significant repair resources tasked with completing the repairs and restoring connectivity ASAP. The part of the time required is that for the repairs to be properly completed, the proper fibers need to be correctly aligned so that the light transmissions go through, and do not get either reflected or refracted. There is also the matter that a trunk line might actually be a bundle of smaller fiber optic lines twisted or braided together which means that when the lines are being spliced back together, line A needs to be reconnected with line A, and so on.
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Old October 29th, 2015   #56
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A standard fiber optic trunk line which a cable/telecom/ISP would use to connect an area can take hours to repair when they get damaged/cut. And this is talking about buried/UG lines which can be dug up, and have significant repair resources tasked with completing the repairs and restoring connectivity ASAP. The part of the time required is that for the repairs to be properly completed, the proper fibers need to be correctly aligned so that the light transmissions go through, and do not get either reflected or refracted. There is also the matter that a trunk line might actually be a bundle of smaller fiber optic lines twisted or braided together which means that when the lines are being spliced back together, line A needs to be reconnected with line A, and so on.
I am conscious that this is off topic, so just to briefly state the obvious that this is another serious Achilles heal for the US military. Also the west in general if internet traffic is seriously disrupted with the ensuing economic consequences. An article in CNN today discusses the issue that Russia has much less of an interest in the WWW being essentially an under developed military first nation that prefers information control. Also most of the revenue on the net is earned by US companies.

Russia, the Internet and a new way to wage war? - CNN.com

This Achilles heal needs to be urgently addressed.
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Old October 29th, 2015   #57
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I am conscious that this is off topic, so just to briefly state the obvious that this is another serious Achilles heal for the US military. Also the west in general if internet traffic is seriously disrupted with the ensuing economic consequences. An article in CNN today discusses the issue that Russia has much less of an interest in the WWW being essentially an under developed military first nation that prefers information control. Also most of the revenue on the net is earned by US companies.

Russia, the Internet and a new way to wage war? - CNN.com

This Achilles heal needs to be urgently addressed.
Could it simply be declared an immediate act of war, with all the consequences up to and including nuclear weapon use, and thus simply be covered under MAD?
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Old October 29th, 2015   #58
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Could it simply be declared an immediate act of war, with all the consequences up to and including nuclear weapon use, and thus simply be covered under MAD?
I would definitely think so.

I am very concerned that the US and China are only a few small steps away from a military confrontation right now. All of this increased Russian activity in the Arctic and under the sea says to me that they are gearing up for something serious too.

I hope I am wrong.
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Old October 29th, 2015   #59
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I am conscious that this is off topic, so just to briefly state the obvious that this is another serious Achilles heal for the US military. Also the west in general if internet traffic is seriously disrupted with the ensuing economic consequences. An article in CNN today discusses the issue that Russia has much less of an interest in the WWW being essentially an under developed military first nation that prefers information control. Also most of the revenue on the net is earned by US companies.

Russia, the Internet and a new way to wage war? - CNN.com

This Achilles heal needs to be urgently addressed.
Again, a bit OT, but to a degree it has/can be addressed. There are a number of undersea fiber optic trunk cables, some crossing the Pacific, others the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, etc. If a link is needed to say, Australia, and the US-Australia cabling is down, there is the potential to re-route traffic bound for Australia from the US over undersea cables which link the US to Europe, and then through the Europe-Asian-Australia links.

This is why the data trunks are arranged in a star-mesh configuration, to provide redundancy. A specific country or cluster or countries could potentially be isolated, if all the links to it/them are severed. The 2010 Haiti Earthquake is a good example of this, as virtually all links to Haiti and Hispaniola were cut. For that matter, the disruption in the phone service in the Northeast US on 9/11 is another good example, since the switchroom was in one of the WTC sub-basements.

Now if Russia wanted to, they could work to isolate specific countries like Japan by cutting the undersea cables, but that would not completely cut them off, at least not at a gov't/military level since there are RF and SATCOM links available as well. Commerce might be stuffed, but such an event occurring without a very significant natural cause also occurring would be an enormous red flag.

Cutting all the cable would be quite a feat IMO. Granted this is an image from Wiki but it shows the undersea cable network of the Eastern Telegraph Company from 1901, yes, 1901... This should give an indication of just how pervasive such networks can be.
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Old October 29th, 2015   #60
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Again, a bit OT, but to a degree it has/can be addressed. There are a number of undersea fiber optic trunk cables, some crossing the Pacific, others the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, etc. If a link is needed to say, Australia, and the US-Australia cabling is down, there is the potential to re-route traffic bound for Australia from the US over undersea cables which link the US to Europe, and then through the Europe-Asian-Australia links.

This is why the data trunks are arranged in a star-mesh configuration, to provide redundancy. A specific country or cluster or countries could potentially be isolated, if all the links to it/them are severed. The 2010 Haiti Earthquake is a good example of this, as virtually all links to Haiti and Hispaniola were cut. For that matter, the disruption in the phone service in the Northeast US on 9/11 is another good example, since the switchroom was in one of the WTC sub-basements.

Now if Russia wanted to, they could work to isolate specific countries like Japan by cutting the undersea cables, but that would not completely cut them off, at least not at a gov't/military level since there are RF and SATCOM links available as well. Commerce might be stuffed, but such an event occurring without a very significant natural cause also occurring would be an enormous red flag.

Cutting all the cable would be quite a feat IMO. Granted this is an image from Wiki but it shows the undersea cable network of the Eastern Telegraph Company from 1901, yes, 1901... This should give an indication of just how pervasive such networks can be.
there are in excess of 24 major subsea cables - and all (not just primary) subsea cables were upgraded to optical fibre after 2012.

good luck with anyone trying to tap them - or assume that compromising critical cables is enough to cripple island continents
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