Russia reopens Soviet-era laboratory to test weapons in Arctic conditions

·1-min read

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has reopened a Soviet-era laboratory to test weapons in extreme Arctic conditions, the military-industrial company which will run the facility said on Thursday, amid a push by the Kremlin to beef up its defences in the resource-rich region.

President Vladimir Putin has touted the Arctic as a vital region for Russian interests as climate change makes it more accessible, presiding over a buildup of military infrastructure and pushing to increase cargo volumes shipped via the Northern Sea Route across its northern flank.

The Central Scientific-Research Institute for Precision Machine Engineering, that makes weapons for Russia's military, said it had restored testing chambers to simulate extreme conditions. The chambers were closed after the Soviet breakup in 1991.

Simulated conditions include extreme heat, cold and wet weather.

Maintenance funding for the testing chambers dried up in the early 1990s and they had fallen into a state of disrepair, it said.

"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, a senior official at the centre, said in a statement.

The facility can now test-fire small arms as well as special grenade launchers and small-cannon armaments at temperatures of between minus 60 and plus 60 degrees Celsius, the weapons maker, known as TsNIITochMash, said.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Gleb Stolyarov; editing by Andrew Osborn)