Canada, U.S. have lost military edge over Russia in the Arctic: Norad commander

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OTTAWA — The commander of North America’s aging early-warning system says the United States and Canada have lost their military advantage in the Arctic to Russia.

U.S. Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy shared his assessment with a U.S. Senate committee this morning, where the commander of the North American Aerospace Defence Command painted a gloomy picture about the growing number of threats to the continent.

O’Shaughnessy says Russia has steadily expanded its military presence in the Arctic, which includes upgrading its long-range bombers, naval fleet and fielding land-based cruise missiles capable of striking the U.S. and Canada.

He says that means the Arctic is now an avenue through which Russia can quickly attack against North American targets, rather than a place to guard against that possibility.

O’Shaughnessy says China has also been developing more advanced weapons that put North America at risk and is increasingly flexing its muscles in the Arctic, while concerns remain about Iran and North Korea acquiring the technology capable of hitting the continent.

The Norad commander says the myriad threats underscore the need to modernize North America’s defensive systems, which were last upgraded in the 1980s, to properly detect and deter attacks from Russia and other potential adversaries.