The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard issued a stark warning on Wednesday that Russia was leagues ahead of Washington in the Arctic. And while the warming Arctic opens up, the United States could be caught flat-footed while other geopolitical rivals swiftly step in. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, warned Russia was building up a huge military and industrial presence in the region while the United States dawdled. Russia is showing “I’m here

first, and everyone else, you’re going to be playing catch-up for a generation to catch up to me first,” said Zukunft in remarks before the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They’ve made a strategic statement,” he said.Take icebreakers, specialized ships that can punch through thick Arctic ice and ensure access to sea lanes for both commercial and military ships. Russia has 40, while the United States has only two in service today, and only one really available for the Arctic. READ MORE