Russian soldiers fire their rifles as they zip by on skis, an RPG exploding into a ball of fire amid a landscape of ice, at Alakurtti base near the border with Finland, NBC News reported.
NBC News reporters were granted rare access to the recently refurbished base, where soldiers in Russia's 80th Motor Rifle Arctic Brigade — equipped with tanks, snowmobiles and even reindeer sleds — are trained to operate in temperatures that can drop to minus 40.
President Vladimir Putin is in the midst of the biggest military build-up in the Arctic since the fall of the USSR. U.S. geologists estimate the area may hold 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its natural gas.
As climate change makes access to the frozen land and ocean easier, Russia is tying to claim 460,000 square miles of the Arctic Ocean as its national territory — including the North Pole. And Washington is watching closely.