11:16 GMT +3 hours27 November 2014
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Russian Navy to expand presence in Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific

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Russia's Defense Ministry is planning to expand the presence of the Russian Navy in the world's oceans and extend the operational radius of submarines deployed with the Northern Fleet, a high-ranking military official said on Tuesday.
MOSCOW, June 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Defense Ministry is planning to expand the presence of the Russian Navy in the world's oceans and extend the operational radius of submarines deployed with the Northern Fleet, a high-ranking military official said on Tuesday.

"The summer training program [running from June 1 to December 1] envisions the increased presence of the Russian Navy, not only in the Atlantic, but also in the Arctic and the Pacific," said Lt. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, who heads the Defense Ministry's combat training directorate.

"We are also planning to increase the operational radius of the Northern Fleet's submarines," he said, adding that the General Staff would determine the new composition and size of the Armed Forces by the beginning of July.

The general said that Russia may shift the focus of its military strategy toward the northern latitudes in order to protect its national interests in the Arctic, especially on its continental shelf, which may contain large deposits of oil and natural gas.

"We have a number of highly-professional military units in the Leningrad, Siberian and Far Eastern military districts, which are specifically trained for combat in Arctic regions," Shamanov said.

Under the Law of the Sea, coastal states hold sovereignty over a zone of 200 nautical mile (370 km) limit, but this area can be extended if it is a part of the country's continental shelf or shallower waters. Some Arctic shelves extend for hundreds of miles, creating a possibility of overlapping territorial claims.

Last August, as part of a scientific expedition, two Russian mini-subs made a symbolic eight-hour dive beneath the North Pole to bolster the country's claim that the Arctic's Lomonosov Ridge lies in the country's economic zone. A titanium Russian flag was also planted on the seabed. Russia first claimed the territory in 2001, but the UN demanded more evidence.

The expedition irritated a number of Western countries, particularly Canada.