A rather optimistic and hopeful prediction. Nevertheless, the geo-political importance of a thawing Arctic still exists and the military presence continues to grow.
Russia continues to add new icebreakers to its current fleet of over 40, including the recent launch of the world’s largest and most powerful nuclear icebreaker — designed for military purposes. Norway increased its defense budget by 9.8 percent in 2016 in order to protect its investments in the Arctic, announcing plans for $19.8 billion in additional defense spending over the next 20 years, prioritizing investment in Arctic capabilities and platforms such as the F-35 fighter aircraft and new submarines. Sweden and Finland have also increased defense spending, and while it has no standing army, Iceland agreed in June to allow U.S. forces to be stationed there for the first time since 2006. The United States unveiled its Arctic strategy, creating the Arctic Executive Steering Committee to realign U.S. focus.