Moscow (AFP) - Russia on Saturday sent six ships carrying personnel and equipment to a Soviet-era military base in the Arctic that it is reopening to bolster its presence in the region, Russian news agencies reported.
Moscow is ramping up its military presence in the pristine but energy-rich region as other countries such as Canada and Norway are also staking claims to access its resources.
President Vladimir Putin last year ordered the military to return to a base on the far-Northern New Siberian Islands that was abandoned in 1993.
On Saturday, a fleet of six ships including two large landing ships set off from the port of Severomorsk in northern Russia, a spokesman for the Western military district, Vadim Serga, told ITAR-TASS news agency.
The ships will be accompanied by several icebreakers.
"The main task of the latest expedition by a number of Northern Fleet ships to the Arctic is to deliver staff, equipment and supplies to the taskforce that from this year will serve on the New Siberian islands on a permanent basis," said the northern fleet's commander, Admiral Vladimir Korolyov.
Last year, ten ships went to the New Siberian Islands in September to deliver the first equipment and supplies to rebuild the base on an archipelago where temperatures can fall to -50 degrees Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit).