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Vladimir Putin orders speeding up of military presence in the Arctic

By The Siberian Times reporter
10 December 2013

Swift response by the Russian president to Canada's move to claim seabed under the North Pole and surrounding waters.

Russia is developing this promising region more and more actively, the country is returning to it and should have here all levers for the protection of country's security and national interests. Picture: Dozhd' TV Russia

The firm Russian move came after Ottawa indicated it is mapping the Arctic seabed with a view to claiming the North Pole seabed as Canadian. This puts Canada at odds with Russia which argues the underwater Lomonosov Ridge is linked to the Siberian land mass.

At stake for both countries - and others with Arctic claims such as Denmark - are vast untapped oil and gas reserves. 

'I would like you to devote special attention to deploying infrastructure and military units in the Arctic,' Putin told a defence ministry meeting on Tuesday. 'Next year, we have to complete the formation of new large units and military divisions.'

Russia was 'ever-more actively reclaiming this promising region, returning to it', he said. 

Defence minister Sergei Shoigu said Putin's orders would be met to the letter. 'In 2014, we intend to create military units and forces for ensuring the military security and protecting the national interests of the Russian Federation in the Arctic,' he said. 

The move will see the return of a major Arctic presence, not seen since Soviet times. Already, Moscow has restored a presence on the New Siberian Islands in the extreme north of east Siberia. The military airport at Tiksi, in the north of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is also undergoing a major modernisation.

'Russia is developing this promising region more and more actively, the country is returning to it and should have here all levers for the protection of country's security and national interests,' Putin was quoted saying by Itar-Tass. The Kremlin's claims to the northern seabed was emphasised in 2007 when a diving team planted a Russian flag under the North Pole.

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