Barents Observer 2009-07-29
A group of Russian paratroopers will next April land at the North Pole. Head of the Russian Airborne Forces insists that the mission will not stir military tensions in the area. The mission to the North Pole will be conducted in connection with the 60-years anniversary of the first parachute landing on pole, and is organized together with Artur Chilingarov, the Russian President’s special representative for Arctic and Antarctic issues. Leader of the Russian Airborne Forces, General Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov, says to RBC.ru that that the operation will not stir military tensions in the Arctic. On the contrary, Mr. Shamanov maintains that the paratrooper operation is a “demilitarizing mission”. -We do not intend to engage in rattling, we only intend to make a peaceful visit to the North Pole, he says. At the same time, he does however admit that the visit is linked with the growing international focus on the area and with the protection of Russian national interests. -Today, when the issue of protection of national interest in the northern direction, a working group on the organization of the trip has been established together with Artur Chilingarov, he says to RBC. Russia has previously been accused for contributing to a militarization of the Arctic, partly because a recent Security Council document proposes to establish special forces for the area. Kremlin and government leaders still stress however that the country has no intention whatsoever to militarize the region.
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