What explains the Russian Federation’s Arctic military buildup? Scholarly assessments have pondered this question many times, providing descriptive analyses of its buildup or finding Russia’s motivation in high-level policy. This article complements that work by examining Russian military theory in the context of the Arctic, revealing the relationship between geo-economics and military strategy in the region. It shows that Russian writers view Arctic military investments as defensive in nature, designed to protect critical economic and security infrastructure from attack by the United States, an adversary that, in their view, seeks to destroy such critical infrastructure as part of a war-winning strategy. Rather than responding to military deployments in an inconsistent tit-for-tat that contributes to a security dilemma, the United States should develop firm, but more predictable, military responses that may help slow the Arctic escalation spiral.