Russia plans for new military command in Arctic
Russia is planning to create a new strategic military command in the Arctic by the end of 2014, to defend its interests in the region.
An undisclosed source in Russia's General Staff was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that, "The new command will comprise the Northern Fleet, Arctic warfare brigades, air force and air defence units as well as additional administrative structures."
The Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command will take the responsibility of protecting Russia's Arctic shipping and fishing, oil and gas fields on the Arctic shelf, along with country's national borders in the north.
In December 2013, Russia President Vladimir Putin ordered the military to increase its presence in the Arctic and complete the military infrastructure development in the region in 2014.
According to the Aerospace Defense Forces commander Alexander Golovko, the military has started the deployment of aerospace defense units in the Arctic and also construction of warning missile radar in extreme north of Russia.
The Defense Ministry is also planning to re-open airfields and ports on the New Siberian Islands and Franz Josef Land archipelago.
In addition to this, the ministry intends to re-open around seven airstrips on the Arctic Circle's continental part, which were mothballed in 1993.
Arctic territories, which hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves, are the centre of disputes between the US, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark.
The countries believe that the rising temperatures in the region will lead to a reduction in sea ice, which is expected to provide easy access to energy reserves.