The Russian navy has resumed warship patrols in the waters around the Arctic Ocean archipelago of Svalbard, the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
"The Russian navy has resumed the presence of Northern Fleet warships in Arctic regions, including in the area of Spitzbergen," the navy said in a statement Monday.
"We have been talking for a long time about widening our activity in the Arctic," said navy spokesman Igor Dygalo. "There is nothing aggressive in the interests of security."
According to the statement, the anti-submarine ship Severomorsk has arrived in the Arctic area and begun carrying out tasks. The cruiser Marshal Ustinov will also arrive after July 17.
Under a 1920 treaty, Svalbard was placed under Norwegian sovereignty, which Russia does not recognize.
Last year, Russia resumed long range bomber flights and regular patrols of the Mediterranean Sea.
(Xinhua News Agency July 15, 2008)