MOSCOW, December 10 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military on Tuesday to boost its presence in the Arctic and complete the development of military infrastructure in the region next year.
“I request that you pay special attention to the deployment of infrastructure and military units in the Arctic,” Putin said at an expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry Board.
Putin said Russia is actively developing this promising region and should have all means for protection of its security and national interests there.
Arctic territories, believed to hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves, have increasingly been at the center of disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice.
Russia has made claims on several Arctic shelf areas and is planning to defend its bid at the United Nations.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that a combined-arms force will be deployed in the Arctic in 2014 to protect the country’s interests in the region.
As part of the ambitious program, the Russian military is planning to reopen airfields and ports on the New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago that were mothballed in 1993.
Shoigu said that at least seven mothballed military airfields on the continental part of the Arctic Circle will also be restored.