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17 Sep, 2014 19:48

Russian Navy tests its power in Arctic drills – RT’s on board

Russia’s Northern Fleet has conducted a series of military exercises in the Arctic, off Russia’s northern coast. RT's Murad Gazdiev has joined the marines as they complete their transition to Russia’s outpost on Kotelny Island.

As battle ships dropped their anchors in the bay off the coast of Kotelny Island in the White Sea, marines carried out a drill on the land that is set to become their permanent home.

It wasn’t just troops who were put to the test during the drill; the two landing ships provided fire support to the marines as they pushed forward against mock enemy positions.

The purpose of the exercise was to familiarize the marines with the rigors of the Arctic – a region for which the international contest is heating up.

Our presence here is intended to safeguard Russia’s interests in the Arctic and to reaffirm that the Arctic route is historically treasured by Russia,” deputy head of the Northern Fleet, Rear Admiral Viktor Sokolov, told RT.

The outpost on Kotelny Island, located in one of the most inhospitable climates on earth and abandoned for decades, is expected to be transformed into a new Arctic stronghold of the Russian Federation.

Moscow is aiming to beef up its military presence in the region by the end of this year. Meanwhile, the air defense reconstruction in the Arctic islands should be completed by October.

Russia intends to strengthen its position in the Arctic in the military, political, financial, and economic sectors. In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the creation of a new public authority to implement Moscow’s policy in the region.

Russia’s growing presence in the area is viewed with caution by other polar nations. Moscow and Washington have frozen US-Russian cooperation in the Arctic due to strained relations over the Ukrainian crisis. Though Russia has the largest military footprint in the Arctic, none of the five polar nations – including the US, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark – have laid full claim on the region, which is rich in resources.