Updated 7:22 p.m. Moscow Time
MOSCOW, October 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will complete deployment of military units on its territory along the Arctic circle by the end of 2014, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.
"We have been very active in the Arctic region lately, and this year we will have a large number of units deployed along the Arctic circle, practically, from Murmansk to Chukotka," Shoigu announced at a meeting with top military brass in Moscow.
Over the past few years, Russia has been pressing ahead with efforts aimed at the development of its Arctic territories, including hydrocarbon production and development of the Northern Sea Route, which is gaining importance as an alternative to traditional routes from Europe to Asia.
Since the Arctic region is believed to have large reserves of oil and gas, the area is of interest for several other countries as well, including the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark.
A number of political, economic and military measures have been taken to protect Russia’s interests in the Arctic amid NATO’s increased focus on the region.
On October 20, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that NATO presence in the Arctic was unnecessary, as there were no problems in the region that would require the alliance's participation. In May, the then NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the bloc had no plans to deploy military forces in the region.
In April, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would build a unified network of military facilities on its Arctic territories to host troops, advanced warships and aircraft as part of a plan to boost protection of the country’s interests and borders in the region.