Russia activates strategic military command in Arctic

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A new Russian strategic military command covering the Arctic region went operational Monday, marking a major move Moscow has been mulling to beef up its presence in the area.

The command, which is subject to the Northern Fleet, will exercise leadership over all armed forces of Russia in the Arctic so as to improve structure of the military there, Interfax news agency reported.

Following the establishment of the Arctic strategic command, the Northern Fleet will cease to be part of Russia's Western Military District and become an independent operational-strategic unit, according to the report.

As more military personnel and hardware are expected to be directed to the command, the missions in the new training year will have to be performed in new capacity, the Northern Fleet commander Vladimir Korolyov said at a lineup ceremony at the fleet 's central base in Severomorsk.

President Vladimir Putin has said his country will never " surrender" the Arctic area and ordered the Defense Ministry to take every step necessary to protect the country's security and national interests in the region.

Also on Monday, Russian Defense Ministry said the air forces will further hone their capability in the Arctic.

"In 2015, main efforts of the Air Force will be directed to increasing of the presence in the Arctic zone, re-training of the personnel for new and modernized weaponry," ministry spokesman Igor Klimov told reporters.

The air force's units will also have to increase their combat readiness, he said.

In October, Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi said Russia was planning to submit another request to the United Nations, seeking to expand its Arctic borders by 1.2 million square kilometers.

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