Russia will set up Arctic forces to help protect the nation's interests in the energy-rich region.

Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said two Army brigades would be deployed in the territories beyond the Arctic Circle.

“The General Staff is currently drafting plans to establish two [army brigade] formations, including deployment sites, armaments, troop numbers and infrastructure,” Mr. Serdyukov told reporters on Friday.

He said the Arctic forces may be stationed in the northern Russian cities of Murmansk or Arkhangelsk, but other locations are also being considered.

The plan to strengthen military forces in the Arctic was announced a day after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia would protect its interests in the region “firmly and consistently” and would stand by its territorial claims on the underwater Lomonosov and Mendeleev ridges in the Arctic Ocean, which is believed to hold up to a quarter of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas.

Mr. Serdyukov announced on Friday that the new submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missile, Bulova, was ready for deployment on the new-generation Borei-class nuclear submarines that would operate in the Arctic.

The Russian Navy has also drawn up plans to deploy more surface battleships in Arctic ports to protect sea routes along Russia's 22,600-km long Arctic coastline.

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