MOSCOW (AP) - Russia is planning to create a dedicated military force to help protect its interests in the disputed Arctic region.
The presidential Security Council has released a document outlining government policy for the Arctic that includes creating a special group of military forces. The report was released this week and reported by Russian media on Friday.
Russia, the United States, Canada and other northern countries are trying to assert jurisdiction over the Arctic.
When did Canada become an "Arctic Power"?
The dispute has intensified amid growing evidence that the shrinking polar ice is opening up new shipping lanes and allowing natural resources to be tapped.
The Canadian government on Friday reaffirmed its Arctic claims, saying it will defend its northern territories and waters after Russia earlier announced plans to militarize the North.
"Canada is an Arctic power," Catherine Loubier, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, said in an email to AFP.
"The government is engaged in protecting the security of Canada and in exercising its sovereignty in the North, including Canadian waters," she said.
Loubier pointed to the planned acquisition of Arctic patrol vessels, construction of a deep water port and eavesdropping network in the region, annual military exercises and boosting the number Inuit Arctic rangers keeping on eye on goings-on along its northern frontier.
Earlier, Russia announced plans to turn the Arctic into its "leading strategic resource base" by 2020 and station troops there, documents showed, as nations race to stake a claim to the oil-rich region.
The country's strategy for the Arctic through 2020 -- adopted last year and now published on the national security council website -- says one of Russia's main goals for the region is to put troops in its Arctic zone "capable of ensuring military security."
I'm putting my money on Russia.