April 5 (UPI) -- The Pentagon said Monday that it's aware of Russian military activity in the Arctic and that it is committed to protecting U.S. interests in the region.
"Without getting into specific intelligence assessments, obviously we're monitoring it very closely," John F. Kirby, the Department of Defense press secretary, said during a press conference. "Obviously, no one wants to see the Arctic as a region become militarized."
The statement came a day after CNN reported on satellite images by space technology company Maxar that document Russia's build-up of military equipment and the testing of weapons, including that of a Poseidon 2M39 torpedo, in the Arctic.
Kirby told reporters the Pentagon recognizes the area as "key terrain" vital to U.S. defense and as a corridor between the Indo-Pacific, Europe and the United States.
"We're committed to protecting our U.S. national security interests in the Arctic by upholding a rules-based order in the region, particularly through our network of Arctic allies and partners who share the same deep mutual interests that we do, in exactly that order," he said, adding he will not go into specifics.
The United States is watching Russia's activity there, he said, and there are national security interests they will defend.
Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesman, told CNN that Russia is refurbishing Soviet-era airfields and radar installations in the Arctic as well as constructing new ports and search-and-rescue centers, building up its nuclear-powered icebreaker vessels and expanding its network of air and coastal defense missile systems.
"Thus, strengthening its anti-access and area-denial capabilities over key portions of the Arctic," he said.