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Russia reinforcing permanent troops group deployed in Arctic — defense minister

The measures are to expand the armed forces’ capabilities for securing the defense of the national interests in the region

MOSCOW, January 29. /TASS/. Russia's Defense Ministry is reinforcing the grouping of troops, which will be stationed in the Arctic on a permanent basis, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

"The buildup of the permanent group of troops in the Arctic is underway", Shoigu said at a meeting of the ministry’s collegium.

"This will expand the armed forces’ capabilities for securing the defense of the national interests in the region," he said.

Russia’s Northern Fleet air defense force to step up control in Arctic

Russia’s new Air Force and Air Defense Army, created in the Northern Fleet, will enhance control over the airspace in the Arctic, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Friday.

"Special attention is paid to the strengthening of the air environment monitoring system [in the Arctic zone]. With this end in view, the 45th Air Force and Air Defense Army of the Northern Fleet was formed in December 2015," Shoigu said at a meeting of the ministry’s collegium.

According to Shoigu, radio-radar units and an air defense missile regiment equipped with S-300 missile systems were put on combat duty on the Franz Joseph Land, Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya and New Siberian Islands archipelagos.

The beginning of the formation of the Air Force and Air Defense Army within the Northern Fleet was announced in summer 2015. In late January 2016, the Fleet’s Chief of Staff Nikolai Yevmenov said the process had been completed.

According to Yevmenov, December 2015 marked a year since the Arctic united strategic command was established in north Russia. The Northern Fleet has become the mainstay of the new strategic formation. The new all-arms strategic formation or the Northern Command, as it is called, is successfully developing new bases on the Arctic coast and islands. Modern military infrastructure facilities are being built literally from scratch on a whole number of Arctic archipelagoes. These infrastructural facilities feature hi-tech and efficient systems to keep a close watch on the situation and are able to function in the air, above and under water, he said. "We are creating comfortable living conditions for our military personnel who will serve in the Arctic on a permanent basis," Yevmenov said.

At the end of 2015, the defense minister announced completion of the construction of four military bases in the Arctic and pledged to strengthen the group of forces in the Arctic zone in 2016. Previously, a senior source in the Russian General Staff told TASS that it was planned to form self-sufficient mobile groups of troops in the region by 2018.

Shoigu said earlier a wide range of potential challenges and threats to Russia's security was forming in the Arctic. Therefore, the minister said, the development of military infrastructure in the region is one of the ministry’s priorities.

In 2015, Russia formed and deployed in the Arctic two air defense regiments armed with S-400 Triumf systems, a source in the General Staff said previously. To protect these systems from air attacks several batteries of missile and artillery systems Pantsir have been brought there. The same source said that the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago will host a coastal missile battalion armed with Bastion missiles systems.