Russia has been busy in the Arctic in 2015. Its activities, according to a fascinating round-up by the New York Times’ Steven Lee Myers, have included a massive military exercise featuring “45,000 troops, as well as dozens of ships and submarines, including those in its strategic nuclear arsenal, from the Northern Fleet,” the permanent deployment of two new brigades of troops to the country’s northern reaches, and increased air patrols. By contrast, the U.S. army is considering reducing the number of troops it keeps in Alaska. Earlier in August, Russia resubmitted a claim to a huge undersea expanse of the Arctic to the U.N. Russia fields 41 icebreakers, compared to two fielded by the United States, and is building 10 search-and-rescue stations with accompanying communications infrastructure along its northern coast. There is a lot of oil and gas under that ice, and Russia is playing for keeps.
President Obama is traveling to the United States’ Arctic frontier this week in Alaska. Here’s what he will be doing: