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Russia boosts Arctic military presence
January 3, 2014, 6:17 pm

Russian President Vladimir Putin had said last month that Russia needed to use every means to protect its national interests in the region [AP]

Russian President Vladimir Putin had said last month that Russia needed to use every means to protect its national interests in the region [AP]

In a push to boost military presence in the Arctic, combat aircraft from Russia’s Northern Fleet will extend the ranges of their patrol flights over the Arctic in 2014 using a network of revamped Soviet-era airfields.

“In 2014, the naval aviation of the Northern Fleet will significantly expand the geography of Arctic patrol flights, including with the use of the Temp airfield on the New Siberian Islands,” the fleet’s spokesperson, Captain Vadim Serga said on Friday.

Serga said the fleet’s Tu-142 and Il-38 reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft carried out over 30 patrol missions in the Arctic last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had said last month that Russia needed to use every means to protect its national interests in the region.

Russia has made claims on several Arctic shelf areas and is planning to defend its bid at the UN. Canada, US and Denmark also lay claim to parts of the resource-rich shelf.

Putin ordered the Russian military in December to boost its presence in the Arctic and complete the development of military infrastructure in the region in 2014.

The Russian defense Ministry has announced plans to deploy a combined-arms force in the Arctic by 2015.

As part of the ambitious program, the Russian military will reopen airfields and ports on the New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago, as well as at least seven airfields on the continental part of the Arctic Circle that were mothballed in 1993.

Arctic nations have long vied for the potentially valuable resources beneath the northern seas.

The US geological Survey in 2008 said the Arctic Circle has an estimated 90 billion barrels of recoverable oil, 1,670 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of recoverable natural gas liquids.

Last year saw a record melting of summer sea ice in the Arctic which has led to a major push by oil and mining companies to drill in Arctic waters, and by Asian countries hoping to cut shipping routes.

China, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore were granted new observer status status at the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council convened in Kiruna, the northernmost city of Sweden.

China will act as a serious player and peaceful power as the new observer at the Arctic Council, Chinese Ambassador to Finland Huang Xing said last summer.

 

TBP and Agencies

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