Russia’s military is reportedly engaged in an "unprecedented build up in the Arctic" and is testing its newest "super weapons" - including the Poseidon 2M39 torpedo. CNN reports that Russia’s activity in the Arctic is geared toward taking advantage of less ice in the region by “securing its northern coast and opening up a key shipping route from Asia to Europe.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin had said in February the torpedo was in a "key stage" of testing and was expecting more tests in the near future as it nears completion. CNN notes the unmanned stealth torpedo is “powered by a nuclear reactor and intended by Russian designers to sneak past coastal defenses - like those of the U.S. - on the sea floor.”
The torpedo is reportedly capable of delivering a multiple megaton warhead, which could create radioactive waves that would render targeted coastlines uninhabitable for decades.
In addition to the weapons tests, Russia is also “refurbishing Soviet-era airfields and radar installations, constructing new ports and search-and-rescue centers, and building up its fleet of nuclear- and conventionally-powered icebreakers," Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesman, told CNN.
Last week, three Russian nuclear ballistic missile submarines surfaced simultaneously breaking the Arctic ice during drills, in an event reported live by the commander-in-chief of the Russian fleet at a meeting with Putin via videolink.
The commander, Nikolai Yevmenov, said the sophisticated manoeuvre was carried out by submarines "for the first time in the history of the Russian Navy". The submarines surfaced within a 300 meters radius and the ice they broke was 1.5 meter deep, the admiral added.
The Kremlin has pushed to beef up defences in the Arctic, which Putin has touted as a vital region for Russian interests as climate change makes it more accessible.
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The Russian defence ministry published footage of the submarines emerging from underneath the ice with loud noise. After one of them surfaced, a sailor showed up on top of it and waved at a camera with his hand.
The drill was held near Franz Josef Land Archipelago in the Arctic Ocean and was aimed at testing Russian military hardware in extreme weather conditions.
"The Arctic expedition... has no analogues in the Soviet and the modern history of Russia," Putin said.