Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday dismissed Washington’s concerns over Moscow’s growing military presence in the Arctic.
“The concerns of the American side about militarisation have no basis,” Putin said following a summit meeting with US President Joe Biden in Geneva.
Putin said Russia was not doing “anything new” in the Arctic, and that his country was “restoring the destroyed infrastructure” in the region.
The Russian leader has made the Arctic region a strategic priority and ordered investment in military infrastructure and mineral extraction, exacerbating regional ties.
He said Russia intends “to fully adhere to international legal norms,” in the Arctic.
As climate change makes the Arctic more accessible, global competition for the region’s natural resources, its navigation routes and its strategic position has ballooned, particularly between the United States and Russia, but also China.
Moscow has beefed up its military presence in the region, reopening and modernising several bases and airfields abandoned since the end of the Soviet era and deploying its state-of-the-art S-400 air defence systems.
As ice cover in the Arctic decreases, Russia is hoping to make use of the Northern Sea Route shipping channel to export oil and gas to overseas markets.
Putin said Russia was “ready to provide assistance to all companies in the development of the Northern Sea Route”.
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