IQALUIT, Nunavut, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Canada has launched Arctic sovereignty military exercises as the defense minister warned Russia its aircraft would be met with fighter planes.
The exercise dubbed Operation Nanook was launched Tuesday in Iqaluit, Nunavut, under the supervision of Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
He told reporters Russia's occupation of Georgia this month signaled the need for a "new era" of Canada's relations with Moscow.
"We're obviously very concerned about much of what Russia has been doing lately," MacKay said.
The minister said Canada will be even more vigilant in sending F-18 fighters to turn back Russian Arctic long-range patrol bombers.
"And we are going to continue to do that, to demonstrate that we are watching closely their activities here," he said.
As Arctic ice packs shrink and make the possibility of shipping lines and oil and gas exploration more feasible, Canada, Russia, the United States, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland have been jostling to define their share of the Arctic.