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AFP
December 26, 2020

Russia revives lab to test weapons in Arctic climate

AFP
December 26, 2020

MOCOW: Russia has revived a Soviet-era research facility to test weapons in severe Arctic conditions amid a drive by the Kremlin to boost its defences in the resource-rich region in the face of growing military provocations along its western borders.

A senior official of Russian weapons maker, the Central Scientific-Research Institute for Precision Machine Engineering, announced in a Thursday statement that it had restored testing chambers at the facility to simulate extreme conditions.

The chambers were shut down in 1991 following the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. Simulated conditions include extreme heat, cold and wet weather.“Certification was the final technical stage in restoring the unique testing technology that was lost after the Soviet collapse and that was only owned by our institute,” said the official, Sergei Karasev, in the statement.

The laboratory can now test-fire small arms as well as special grenade launchers and small-cannon munitions at temperatures of between minus 60 and plus 60 degrees Celsius, added the weapons maker. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has pointed to the Arctic as a vital region for the interests of the country as climate change makes it more accessible.

Putin has also been presiding over a buildup of military infrastructure in the area in response to the growing presence of Nato forces, while pressing for increasing cargo volumes shipped via the Northern Sea Route across its northern flank.

Officials and military analysts first pointed to Russia’s efforts to reopen abandoned Soviet-era military, air and radar bases on remote Arctic islands as well as constructing new ones in January 2017 amid reports that Moscow was engaged in the biggest military push in the Arctic since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

“The modernization of (the) Arctic forces and of Arctic military infrastructure is taking place at an unprecedented pace not seen even in Soviet times,” said the editor-in-chief of Moscow Defense Brief Mikhail Barabanov at the time.