Putin says Russia aims to strengthen its Arctic position
Russian president speaks at youth camp outside Moscow about Arctic ambitions
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow has to strengthen its position, economically and militarily, in the resource-rich Arctic region, where other countries are vying for influence.
"Our interests are concentrated in the Arctic. And of course we should pay more attention to issues of development of the Arctic and the strengthening of our position [there]," Putin told a youth camp outside Moscow on Friday, enumerating military and economic plans for Russia's Arctic.
Any actions taken by the government will be within the rules of international law, RIA Novosti reported Putin as saying.
"This is our territory, and we will renew our infrastructure and the infrastructure of the Emergencies Ministry, because we need to provide security for convoys and shipping along the trade route," the Russian news agency quoted him as saying.
Canada 'must not be complacent,' Harper says
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not yet responded to Friday's comments from Putin.
Earlier this week, however, he ended his annual tour of Canada's North with some strong words for Putin and his "imperial ambitions."
"Because Russia is also Canada's neighbour, we must not be complacent here at home," said Harper, off the coast of Baffin Island.
The closing remarks marked the second time Harper had mentioned Putin during the six-day visit.
On Aug. 22, Harper was asked if he was concerned about the militarization of the Arctic. The prime minister answered with a "cautious yes."
Harper said Putin has refrained from being as aggressive in the Arctic as he has been in parts of Eastern Europe.
However, he cautioned Canadians from becoming complacent as Russia rebuilds its Soviet-era military bases in its North.
"I just think we should not be complacent, because we have seen over the period that President Putin has been in power just a gradual growing in aggressiveness of his government toward neighbours and the gradual military assertiveness of that country, and I just think it's something we should never be too at ease about," he said.
With files from The Canadian Press