WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Russian Airborne Troops are planning to expand their military exercises into the North Pole area of the Arctic in 2016.
Russian Airborne Troops spokesman Lt. Col. Yevgeny Meshkov said the exercise would include the mass landing of troops in the Arctic, Radio Free Europe reported.
"Combat training under extreme conditions to include landing and multi-day field practice on the Arctic ice is planned to be conducted together with specialists of the Expedition Center of the Russian Geographical Society and Military Transport Aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces," Meshkov told Interfax, a Russian news agency.
The Russian military's push north comes as the International Business Times reports the region is believed to have large oil and natural gas deposits. Russian President Vladimir Putin stated his government had no interest in militarizing the region in December 2014, however wanted to strengthen defensive capabilities there.
The move comes as NATO defense officials remain skeptical of Moscow's military intentions. NATO accused Russia of building an "arc of steel" from the Mediterranean to the Arctic to counter Western power.