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Russia plans military force for Arctic

By Vladimir Isachenkov
Associated Press / March 28, 2009
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MOSCOW - Russia plans to create a new military force to protect its interests in the disputed Arctic region, a Kremlin strategy paper says.

The document outlines Russia's policy for the Arctic, which is believed to contain as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas.

The paper was signed by President Dmitry Medvedev in September and released by the presidential Security Council, but only reported by Russian media yesterday.

Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark, and Norway have been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic.

The dispute has intensified amid growing evidence that global warming is shrinking polar ice, opening up new shipping lanes and allowing natural resources to be tapped.

The Kremlin paper says the Arctic must become Russia's "top strategic resource base" by the year 2020.

It calls for strengthening border guard forces in the region and updating their equipment, while creating a new group of military forces to "ensure military security under various military-political circumstances."

By 2011, it says, Russia must complete geological studies to prove its claim to Arctic resources and win international recognition of its Arctic borders. The paper has been posted on the Security Council's website.

Moscow first submitted its claim in 2001 to the United Nations, but was rejected for lack of evidence. Russia now hopes to prove that an underwater mountain range crossing the polar region is part of Russia's continental shelf.

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