Wed, Oct 01, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Russian nuclear sub returns from Arctic mission

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A Russian nuclear submarine completed a month-long mission under the Arctic ice as Russia reasserts its military power in the region.

The submarine Ryazan of Russia’s Northern Fleet arrived yesterday at the Vilyuchinsk base on the Kamchatka peninsula after sailing for more than 30 days without surfacing, the navy said in a faxed statement.

“Russia’s submariners haven’t lost the skill of making long sub-ice voyages, and they gave a worthy confirmation of the quality of our national school of fulfilling complex missions in Arctic waters,” Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, head of the navy, said in the statement.

In the last year, Russia has conducted large-scale war games in the Arctic, including long-range bombers, beefing up its military presence as it tries to claim the region’s vast resources. On Sept. 17, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia’s “main task” is to turn the Arctic into a “resource base.”

Russia is jockeying for Arctic territory with the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark, which all have territorial claims in the region. Russian explorers planted a flag on the Arctic seabed directly beneath the North Pole last year, symbolically staking a claim to an area that may hold 10 billion tonnes of oil equivalent, as well as deposits of gold, nickel and diamonds, the Russian government said.

Russia claims 18 percent of the Arctic region, which touches on 20,000km of the country’s border, head of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev said. The government will draft a development plan for the area by Dec. 1.

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