Russian military presence in the Arctic / Violent clashes in Biafra / Asturianist homage to 1936 militias

9 to 15 September

WEEKLY ROUNDUP. A report from a UK think tank is warning NATO member states on the ever growing influence of the Russian Federation in the Arctic region. Meanwhile in Biafra, 50 years after a bloody independence war, clashes between the Nigerian military and Igbo activists are again taking place. Asturias’ left-wing movement is ready to honour anti-fascist militias that lost the El Mazucu battle, having been “abandoned” both by Spaniards and Basques.


Russia-NATO competition in Arctic region. As ice melting is spurred by climate change, Vladimir Putin is increasing Russia’s military presence in the North Pole area. A group of UK political scientists linked to the Henry Jackson Society —a University of Cambridge research group— has warned this week of an increasingly permanent presence of army and operational bases of the Russian Federation in the Arctic region.

The HJS, which is usually NATO- and UK-aligned, has advised both of them to “adopt an Arctic strategy” vis a vis the ever-growing presence of Russia in the region.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Moscow limited for almost 25 years its presence in that vast territory, almost two-thirds of which are under its administration. In 2015, the opening of a military base on the island of Kotelny, facing the coast of Eastern Siberia, signaled a reactivation of Russia’s military foothold on the region, which came along a reinforcement of its icebreaker fleet, as well as of scientific campaigns and energy surveys.

In the midst of this geostrategic dispute between Putin’s Russia and NATO powers traditionally allied to the US, it should be recalled that the Siberian area holds a vast diversity of non-Slavic peoples, most of them of Mongol or Turkic origin. Among those, Buryats and Yakuts or Sakhas —some 400,000 members each— and Kets, Evenkis and others can be found. German, Chinese and Jewish communities complete an extraordinarily diverse mosaic, the collective rights of those peoples hardly ever taken into consideration by Russian authorities as regards geostrategic issues.


Biafra clashes claim lives. 50 years after the outbreak of the Biafran war —which resulted in the defeat of the pro-independence side— violence is again taking place in the Igbo-majority area. Clashes between the Indigenous People of Biafra group (IPOB) and the Nigerian army have this week left 3 people killed and some 30 injured. Other sources point to at least 15 killed. A series of videos made public by Igbo activists show Nigerian soldiers torturing IPOB members in Aba.

Left-wing Asturianist movement pays tribute to 1936 ‘Asturian army’. The El Mazucu esplanade, in the Asturian municipality of Llanes, will host a homage to Asturian anti-fascist militias that, in the battle that took place there in 1936, faced the Francoist army in an unequal clash that led them to defeat. Asturian workers’ militias are vindicated by some in the present-day Asturian movement as a true Asturian army. The militias were at the time at odds with the command of the Spanish Republican forces and enjoyed no help from Basque Gudari forces (Basque Nationalist Party and Basque Nationalist Action militias). The latter question is still today a controversial issue in historiographical debate. The homage will be held on September 16 and will feature, among others, speeches by Mikel Paredes Manot —the brother of Txiki, one of the last five people executed by the Francoisy regime— and ERC MP Joan Tardà.