Russia is planning to set up the headquarters of its Arctic Command at a naval base used by its Northern Fleet, and the new facility will become operational on Dec. 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Monday.
The Arctic Command is part of Russia’s plan to form a combined arms group and construct a unified network of military facilities in the country’s Arctic territories, by hosting troops, advanced warships and aircraft to strengthen the protection of its northern borders, Ria Novosti reported.
“A new strategic command in the Arctic, based at the Northern Fleet, will become operational on December 1 this year,” Putin reportedly said, in a meeting with top military commanders on Monday.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said that the newly formed Arctic Command, dubbed “North,” will include the country’s Northern Fleet, two Arctic-warfare brigades, in addition to its air force and air defense units by 2017, according to Ria Novosti.
The latest announcement by Russia follows recent media reports that Norwegian scientists had spotted a Russian submarine surface in the Arctic Circle in October. The submarine was reportedly the 13,700-ton Delta class boat Orenburg, a newly refurbished ballistic missile bomber.
In October, a senior Russian military commander said that the country would strengthen its military forces with more airfields and radar stations in the Arctic.
“We are planning to build 13 airfields, an air-ground firing range, as well as ten radar and vectoring posts,” Lt. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the National Defense Management Center, was quoted as saying at the time, by Ria Novosti.
Russia’s Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi also reportedly said in October that the country could submit another request to the United Nations, seeking to expand its Arctic borders by 1.2 million square kilometers (more than 463,322 square miles).
A Russian expert also said that the country’s prospective submission to the U.N. to expand the limits of its Arctic borders is backed by scientific research. Over the past few years, the Russian government has reportedly been undertaking several political, economic and military measures to safeguard the country’s interests in the Arctic.
In October 2013, Putin vowed never to "surrender" Russia's Arctic area. He later ordered the Defense Ministry to take steps to protect Russia’s interests in the region, Xinhua reported.