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Russia To Boost Combat Capabilities In Crimea, Kaliningrad, Arctic

Russia has announced plans to strengthen its military capabilities on the annexed Crimean Peninsula, in the Arctic, and in its westernmost territory -- the exclave of Kaliningrad.

General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian military's General Staff, said on January 13 that in 2015 "the Defense Ministry will focus its efforts on increasing the combat capabilities of its units and increasing combat strength in accordance with the military development plans.

"Special attention will be given to the groups in Crimea, the Kaliningrad region and the Arctic," Gerasimov said.

All three regions are the focus of tension or potential rivalry with the United States and NATO .

Russia's new military doctrine, signed by President Vladimir Putin in December, underlines the need to protect Russia's interests in the Arctic.

Like the previous doctrine, it identifies NATO expansion as a threat to Russian security.

Kaliningrad is sandwiched between EU and NATO members Poland and Lithuania.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine last March in a move that severely strained Moscow's ties with the West.

They have been further damaged by Moscow's support for separatists in a deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Based on reporting by and Interfax