While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put more Western troops in Eastern Europe, the US and Canada are also looking to bolster military forces to their north.
AFP reported on Wednesday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted Canada to scramble to bolster its military in the Arctic, what the country’s top general calls “NATO’s northern flank.”
“As we’re taking a look at what is happening in Ukraine, we’re also having a very close look at what else Russia is doing in the world, and the far north is a key area of concern,” General Wayne Eyre, the head of Canada’s Defense Staff, said at a conference earlier this month.
The US and Canada recently concluded the US-led Arctic Edge military exercises that are held in Alaska. During the drills, the US deployed Patriot missiles and other advanced air defense systems in Alaska for the first time.
According to The Defense Post, the US used the Patriots as well as the AN/TWQ-1 Avenger short-range air defense (SHORAD) system, and the AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radar. A National Guard commander said deploying the systems to Alaska sends a “clear message” to the US’s “adversaries.”
In recent years, the US military has identified the Arctic as a potential future battlefield for wars against Russia and China. Last year, the US Army released a policy document that said the Arctic has the “potential to become a contested space where United States’ great power rivals, Russia and China, seek to use military and economic power to gain and maintain access to the region at the expense of US interests.”
The US Navy released a similar strategy document in early 2021. Then-Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite suggested that the US could start challenging Russian claims to the Arctic by sending warships near Russia’s northern coast, similar to how the US Navy makes provocative passages near Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea.