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    US Intends to Expand Navy Presence in Arctic, Ensure Space Leadership - Shoigu

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The United States intends to expand its Navy's presence in the Arctic as well as to ensure its military has an upper hand in terms of space, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.

    "In order to achieve leadership in space, the United Space has created a new kind of armed forces — space troops. Since August, the second operational fleet of the US Navy is being created. Its main task will be to expand US military presence in the Arctic," Shoigu said at the end-of-year session of the Russian Defense Ministry's board.

    Speaking about the Russian Armed Forces, Shoigu stressed that they will hold 18,000 drills and trainings in 2019, including the exercise of strategic nuclear forces.

    He explained that the Russian army has been strengthening their combat capacities in 2018 to counteract the US global anti-missile system.

    "To counteract the United States deploying a global anti-missile system, the [Russian] Armed Forces are enhancing their combat potential," the minister said.

    He also stated that combat capabilities of the Russian Armed Forces increased by 11 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year.

    "The increase of combat capabilities by 11 percent was ensured, and the country's defense capabilities were ensured on the set level. The increase of quantitative and qualitative key indices could be seen, compared to 2017," the top official noted. 

    Speaking about Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers, Shoigu stressed that four modernized systems should be put on combat duty in the country's Aerospace Forces in 2019.

    READ MORE: Pentagon Confirms They Received Russian Proposal on INF Treaty Talks — Spokesman

    He also commented on Russia's Peresvet laser systems noting that the complex entered combat duty in the Russian Armed Forces on December 1.

    "From December 1 of this year, installations of the combat laser complex Peresvet have entered combat duty," Shoigu said at an extended session of the Russian Defense Ministry's board.

    The defence minister's comments come after Russia's President Vladimir Putin said earlier in the day that the Russian Armed Forces in its development should focus on unmanned systems and digital technologies. 

    On December 11, the Missile Defence Agency (MDA) said that the United States military has intercepted an intermediate-range ballistic missile during a test conducted in Hawaii. The test marked the second consecutive successful intercept for the SM-3 Block IIA missile, following a previous test in October, US media reported.

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    United States, navy, US Navy Norfolk Base, Defense Ministry, Sergei Shoigu, Russia
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