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Satellite images show large Russian military build up in Arctic: report

Russia is building up military equipment in the Arctic and testing new weapons there as it looks to assert dominance of the region, CNN reported.

Russia is building upon military bases, hardware and underground storage facilities on its Arctic coastline, with bombers, MiG31BM jets and new radar systems close to the Alaskan coast, according to satellite images provided to CNN by space technology company Maxar.

Included in the buildup is the Poseidon 2M39 unmanned stealth torpedo, a so-called super-weapon powered by a nuclear reactor. Russia quickly developing the armament and tested it in February, with further tests planned this year, according to Russian state media.

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Moscow intends for the torpedo to be able to elude U.S. and NATO coastal defenses and is “part of the new type of nuclear deterrent weapons,” the head of Norwegian intelligence, Vice Admiral Nils Andreas Stensønes, told CNN.

To counter the buildup, NATO and the U.S. have also moved equipment into the area in the past year, including the U.S. military's stealth Seawolf submarine as well as its B-1 Lancer bombers, which recently flew over the eastern Barents Sea.

“There's clearly a military challenge from the Russians in the Arctic,” a senior State Department official told CNN. “That has implications for the United States and its allies, not least because it creates the capacity to project power up to the North Atlantic.”

While the increase of Russian military assets has taken place inside Russian territory, U.S. officials are worried Moscow may move use its forces to take over areas of the Arctic outside its borders.

The buildup has been all the more apparent in recent days, with Russia holding military flights near Alaskan airspace and submarine activity in the Arctic.

In late March, three Russian nuclear ballistic missile submarines simultaneously broke through several feet of ice in the Arctic in a military drill. And last week, Russia flew jets and bombers near Alaskan airspace, including 10 times on Monday alone.

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“I think we’ve been very clear about the threats that we see from Russia across domains. ... We're taking them very, very seriously,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said last week.

In addition, Moscow is regularly testing high-tech weapons, including the Poseidon 2M39 and the Tsirkon anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile.

Russia also is attempting to influence a shipping lane that runs from between Norway and Alaska known as the Northern Sea Route. The route cuts in half shipping times to move containers from Europe to Asia.