Russia Sees Arctic as Naval Priority

Russia Sees Arctic as Naval PriorityRussia Sees Arctic as Naval Priority

Russia will strengthen its naval forces in the Arctic and Atlantic as a response to NATO activities close to Russia's borders, the Kremlin said.

Russia's plans are outlined in a new naval doctrine, launched on Sunday as the nation celebrated Navy Day, BBC reported.

The navy will get a fleet of new icebreakers, because the Arctic region gives Russia unrestricted access to the Atlantic and Pacific, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.  The new doctrine calls for close cooperation with China in the Pacific region and India in the Indian Ocean.

At a ceremony by the Baltic Sea, attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rogozin said "the main emphasis is in two directions: The Arctic and Atlantic."

"The Atlantic emphasis is linked to the fact that recently there has been a quite active development of NATO and it has approached our borders. The Russian Federation will of course respond to that."

The ceremony took place at Baltiysk, a major naval base in Kaliningrad, a Russian territory situated between NATO members Poland and Lithuania. Rogozin, who oversees Russia's Arctic projects, said the situation in Crimea and Sevastopol was also a factor influencing Russia's new naval doctrine.

He said Russia would establish a naval presence in the Mediterranean and invest in the economies of Crimea and Sevastopol.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia retained control of the big Sevastopol naval base. A live-fire exercise by the fleet in Sevastopol could have cost lives when a missile exploded near the warships on Sunday, as thousands of spectators watched the display.