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General: Russia must guard Arctic region

MOSCOW, June 24 (UPI) -- Russia must be ready to fight for its national interests in the Arctic region, home to vast untouched natural resources, a military official said Tuesday.

"After several countries contested Russia's rights for the resource-rich continental shelf in the Arctic, we have immediately started the revision of our combat training programs for military units that may be deployed in the Arctic in case of a potential conflict," Lt. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, head the Defense Ministry's combat training board, told the Krasnaya Zvezda, or Red Star, newspaper.

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As part of a scientific expedition in August, two Russian submarines dove below the North Pole to boost Russia's claim that the Arctic's Lomonosov Ridge is within the country's economic zone, RIA Novosti reported Tuesday. A Russian flag also was planted on the seabed.

Wars are "won or lost long before they start," Shamanov said, and combat training was critical for any future military operation's success.

"The Americans, for example, recently conducted the Northern Edge 12-day large-scale exercise in Alaska, involving about 5,000 personnel, 120 aircraft and several warships," Shamanov said, noting that Russia could no longer ignore a show of military force near vital regions in the Arctic.

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