Russia has revived a Soviet-era research facility to test weapons in severe Arctic conditions as the Kremlin aims to boost its defence in the resource-rich region. This also comes at a time when the country faces military challenges along its western borders. Sergei Karasev, senior official at the Central Scientific-Research Institute for Precision Machine Engineering, Russia’s weapons maker, announced in a statement on Thursday that it had restored testing chambers at the facility to simulate extreme conditions, including extreme heat, cold and wet weather.
Here’s everything you need to know about Russia’s decision to revive the lab:
1. The laboratory, which has unique testing technology, was shut down in 1991 after the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. The Central Scientific-Research Institute for Precision Machine Engineering will run the facility.
2. The lab 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.
3. Funding for maintenance of the testing chambers dried up in the early 1990s which resulted in the military company closing it, thus making the equipment outdated. “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,” Sergei Karasev said.
4. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly called the Arctic region crucial for the military interests and resource procurement of the country. As climate change continues to make the region more accessible, Putin has focused on building up military infrastructure in the area in response to the growing presence of Nato forces.
5. This is not a new step for the country as efforts to reopen abandoned Soviet-era military, air and radar bases on remote Arctic islands as well as constructing new ones were found out by analysts in January 2017 amid reports that Moscow was engaged in the biggest military push in the Arctic since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
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