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Russia Objects To British Plans To Boost Military Presence In Arctic

Britain's Secretary of State for Defense Gavin Williamson

The Russian Embassy in London is objecting to Britain's reported plans to boost its military presence in the Arctic next year to counter what London has called increasing Russian aggression.

The objections were raised on October 1 after British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson told The Sunday Telegraph that the government is preparing a "defense Arctic strategy" that would deploy 800 army and marine commandos to Norway in 2019 and establish a new military base there.

The newspaper said Britain's actions come amid signs that Russia is expanding its military and industrial presence in the Arctic, in particular to exploit the region's large untapped reserves of oil as climate change melts polar ice and makes navigation and habitation in the region more feasible.

"We see Russian submarine activity very close to the level that it was at the Cold War, and it's right that we start responding to that," Williamson told the newspaper.

Williamson separately at a ruling party conference on September 30 called Russia "one of the greatest threats we face today," and said: "We will not let the Kremlin rewrite the outcome of the Cold War."

Williamson's remarks prompted a warning from the Russian Embassy against posting troops in the Arctic.

"We call on British authorities, who have recently been actively promoting the concept of Global Britain, to pursue their ambitions in other fields," the embassy's press secretary said in a statement quoted by the Russian state-run news agency TASS.

"The unjustified British plans to build up its military presence in close proximity to Russia's borders will only result in creating unnecessary tensions," he said. "Russia and other Arctic countries consider this region to be a space for constructive cooperation... There is no potential for conflict, nor should there be."

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and TASS