Begich: Military presence in Arctic is ‘more important than ever’

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said tensions with Russia have made a strong military presence in the Arctic even more important to U.S. security.

“When I first arrived in the Senate five years ago, I got a lot of puzzled looks when I mentioned the Arctic,” Begich said Tuesday. “With unpleasant reminders of the Cold War and the vast potential for resource development in the region, a military presence is more important than ever.”

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Russia recently invaded part of Ukraine. U.S. lawmakers have condemned the action of Russian President Vladimir Putin, comparing him to Hitler. 

When the Senate returns next week, senators expected to consider a bill that places sanctions against Russian leaders and provides aid to Ukraine. Lawmakers hope U.S. sanctions against Russia will be a non-military fix to the situation.

Begich has introduced legislation to give the U.S. Coast Guard more resources to increase its Arctic presence. He has also encouraged the Senate to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty, an international agreement that allows member countries to use the oceans.

“Hand in hand with that sovereignty is the ability to protect our national interest in the region, something the Department of Defense and our nation’s military will be crucial in carrying out,” Begich said. 

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