President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia will never "surrender" its Arctic area, as he rejects a Russian scholar's proposal to place the resource-rich region under international control as "stupid."
"The (Russian) Arctic is an integral part of the Russian Federation and it has been under our sovereignty for a few centuries. And so it will be forever," Putin told the party congress of the ruling United Russia near Moscow.
His remarks came several days after Sergei Medvedev, a professor of the Moscow's High Economic School, proposed to put the Arctic under international jurisdiction.
Noting that the U.S. nuclear submarines are at the shores of Norway and it takes 16-17 minutes for its missiles from that area to Moscow, Putin said "it is utter nonsense to say amid such conditions that the area should be given to somebody esle's management."
He added that the Russian Arctic has been protected by the strategic nuclear submarines and Russian navy has reinstalled its base at Novosibirsk Islands off Siberian coast.
"The work is in progress. Four icebreakers have been escorting the team, about 17 support vessels and several large ships. A large group of Russian servicemen are stationed there in order to rebuild infrastructure, including an airport," Putin said.
"We will be broadening our presence in the Arctic," the Interfax
news agency quoted him as saying.