Russia is stepping up military presence in the Arctic in a bid to reinforce its claims to vast swaths of the energy-rich region.

“The Northern and Pacific Fleet are [strengthening] their forces in Russia's part of the Arctic by deploying new warships in the region,” Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti news agency.

Addressing a meeting of the Russian government's Sea Board in the northern seaport of Murmansk, the Admiral said he had sent a proposal to President Dmitry Medvedev to deploy battleships in Arctic ports to protect sea routes along Russia's 22,600-km-long Arctic coastline.

Judging by figures given by Admiral Vysotsky, Russia's military activity in the Arctic today is higher than it was in the days of the Soviet Union. Russian naval ships and submarines this year have already conducted “more than ten” military patrols of the Arctic, which was the maximum for the Soviet Navy.

“In accordance with the Russian Armed Forces' plan of strategic deterrence we take measures to demonstrate military presence in the Arctic,” said Russia's Navy Commander.

The melting of the polar icecap has whipped up the race of coastal states for the riches of the Arctic, which may account for 25 per cent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. Russia lays claim to nearly 38 per cent of the Arctic seabed, a share hotly disputed by the U.S., Canada and other Arctic states.

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