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U.S. General Concerned About Russia's Military Buildup In The Arctic

Russia -- Russian TOR-M2 tactical surface-to-air missile systems Arctic edition ride through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 9, 2017

A U.S. commander in Alaska expressed concern on May 25 about Russia's recent military buildup in the Arctic, saying it threatens the historically peaceful region.

“What concerns me about Russia is not that they have icebreakers and not that 25 percent of their economy is based in the Arctic. It’s the offensive military capability that they are adding to their force that’s Arctic capable," Air Force Lieutenant General Ken Wilsbach told the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce.

“If you really want to keep the Arctic a peaceful place where heretofore it has been, then why are you building offensive capabilities?” he asked. “My question is, are the Russians taking a page out of the Chinese playbook...whereby they declare an area is now Chinese sovereign territory [and] have overwhelming military force in that area?”

Wilsbach defended Russia's five recent military flights near Alaska's coast, however, saying they were legal and never entered U.S. airspace.

On the growing threat from North Korea, he said that while Pyongyang has been test-firing missiles that have an increasing capacity to reach parts of Alaska, the United States has "strong defensive capabilities" to deal with them.

Based on reporting by AP and the Fairbanks Daily News Miner