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Russian army returning to arctic

September 16, 2013, 10:55 UTC+3

Voyage's purpose - maintaining Russia’s status as leading Arctic power

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Russia has decided to demonstrate to all international stakeholders its legitimate right to the Arctic and its natural and economic resources, Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper writes. The construction of a military airfield, on which combat duty of an air commandant’s office and of all services supporting military aviation will be organized, is beginning this autumn on the Kotelny Island, which belongs to the New Siberian Islands group. A large convoy of ships has been sent to the 73rd parallel to support this work.

From 3 to 12 September 2013, a combat squadron of the Northern Fleet ships comprising the Pyotr Veliky heavy nuclear-powered cruiser, the Kondopoga and Olenegorsky Gornyak large amphibious ships, the Pamir rescue tugboat, the KIL-164 and Alexander Pushkin anchor handling tug supply (AHTS) vessels, the Dubna large sea tanker, the Vyazma tanker, the MB-100 sea tugboat, the Pechora support vessel, according to the Russian Defence Ministry, made a voyage along the Northern Sea Route and arrived at the New Siberian islands. They covered two thousand nautical miles.

Russia’s surface warships have not yet travelled that far on the Northern Sea Route, Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted. The purpose of the voyage is to maintain Russia’s status as a leading Arctic power and to ensure Russia's normal economic activity in the regions of its state and national interests.

The task, no matter what anybody says, is very ambitious. The more so given the appetites of many countries, not only bordering on the Arctic Ocean, but even those located thousands of miles away, for the presence in this part of the world, which is extremely rich in mineral resources, as well as economically attractive.

“We have come to this area in the Arctic, rather, returned for good,” General Arkady Bakhin told the newspaper. “The tasks set before us are difficult, but we will certainly fulfil them. The Ministry of Defence will in full measure be fulfilling the task of permanent military presence in the Arctic with the aim of ensuring Russia’s guaranteed and legitimate access to resources and areas of this region.”

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