ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Russia's foreign minister says military deployments in the Arctic are intended to protect national interests.
Speaking Tuesday at the Arctic forum in St. Petersburg, Sergey Lavrov said that "we ensure the necessary defense capability in view of the military-political situation near our borders." He charged that a recent NATO exercise in Norway was openly directed against Russia.
Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic as shrinking polar ice creates new opportunities for resource exploration and new shipping lanes.
The Russian military has revamped and modernized a string of Soviet-era military bases across the polar region, looking to protect its hold on the region believed to hold up to one-quarter of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas.