Putin Says Russia Needs to Beef Up Arctic Presence

Russian President Vladimir Putin, December 2, 2013President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said the U.S. navy’s capability in the Arctic is a key reason for Russia to beef up its presence in the region. . . .

Putin described the Arctic region as essential for Russia’s economic and security interests.

“There is a huge amount of mineral resources there, including oil and gas,” he said. “It’s also very important for our defense capability.”

While emphasizing the need for Russia to cooperate with the United States and other countries, Putin added that Moscow has to take into account the U.S. navy presence.

“I proceed from the assumption that we will never engage in a global conflict, particularly with a country like the United States,” he said. “Just opposite, we must develop cooperation and partnership, and we have every opportunity for that despite arguments. But the submarines are there, and they do carry missiles.”

The Russian military has been restoring a Soviet-era military base on the New Siberian Islands that was shut down after the Soviet collapse. Russian officials said the facility is key for protecting shipping routes that link Europe with the Pacific region across the Arctic Ocean.

In September, a Russian navy squadron led by a nuclear-powered cruiser, visited the archipelago, which occupies a strategic position on the Arctic shipping route.

Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin, December 2, 2013 (Office of the President of Russia)