The Arctic Is Being Reinforced With Railway Troops


Photo: RBC

Expanding railway capabilities in the Arctic comes in response to shifting geopolitical dynamics, notably Finland’s and forthcoming Sweden's accession to NATO, which has heightened security concerns along Russia’s borders.

The recent decision to deploy specialized railway troops as part of the Northern Fleet has clearly exposed real intentions. Their main task is to repair and maintain railway tracks in the Arctic. Equipped with special equipment, the railway troops will be in charge of the supply of weapons, materials, and fuel.

The initial units of railway troops have already been formed. Drawing from the expertise gained in challenging permafrost conditions like the Baikal-Amur Mainline, the Russian railway troops honed their skills, preparing them for Arctic operations.

In post-Soviet times, the railway troops went through a difficult period. Until 2002, they were allocated to a separate department - the Federal Railway Troops Service. In the wake of the reforms of the late 2000s, they were planned either to be transferred from the Ministry of Defense to another department or completely abolished. However, in the light of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict these troops within the Russian armed forces appeared to be necessary.

Later they began to be actively involved in eliminating the consequences of natural disasters. For example, in 2019 they eliminated the consequences of flooding in the Irkutsk region.

Today they repair railway tracks in Ukraine, deal with supplies, conduct earthworks... The same units are now expected in the North.