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Shoygu: Military presence in the Arctic is a question of national security

Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu. Photo from Arctic Forum in Salekhard 2013.

Russia is prepared to protect its interests in the Arctic with military means if necessary, says Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu, pointing to the increasing interest in the region’s resources by countries with no direct access to the Arctic.

“A constant military presence in the Arctic and a possibility to protect the state’s interests by military means are regarded as an integral part of the general policy to guarantee national security”, Shoygu said at a meeting in the Ministry of Defense on Wednesday, according to Zvezda. “One of the Ministry’s prioritized areas is development of military infrastructure in the region,” he added.

Russia has the last couple of years re-opened old Soviet airfields or started construction of new airfields on New Siberian Islands, Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land. On December 1 2014 the defense of the Arctic territories was united in a new strategic formation – the Strategic command “Sever”, which consists of the Northern Fleet and units of other military branches located in the northern parts of the country.

“It’s not a secret that the Arctic is turning into one of the world centers for production of hydrocarbons, and an important junction for transport communications,” he said. “Some developed countries that don’t have direct access to the Polar Regions obstinately strive for the Arctic, taking certain political and military steps in that direction.” He also noted that countries that are adjacent to the Arctic are all trying to expand their presence.