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Putin Orders Russian Military To Boost Arctic Presence

A Russian merchant vessel sails past a walrus rookery in the Russian Arctic National Park. (file photo)
President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russia's military to step up its presence in the Arctic.

Putin told a Defense Ministry meeting on December 10 that Russia should have "all levers for the protection of [its] security and national interests" in the area.

He said Russia was "ever-more actively reclaiming this promising region, returning to it" after a brief absence that followed the Soviet Union's collapse.

Russia is among several nations, including Canada, Norway, and Denmark, that have competing claims to the energy-rich region.

Last week, Canada said it planned to file with the United Nations a claim to the North Pole and surrounding Arctic waters.

Putin said that "next year, we have to complete the formation of new large units and military divisions" in the Arctic that remain on constant combat alert.

Russia is currently embroiled in a major international dispute over its decision in September to seize a Greenpeace protest ship and all 30 people aboard who were protesting Moscow's policies on oil drilling north of the so-called ice line in the Arctic.

Based on reporting by AFP and ITAR-TASS