17:2521/07/2009 MOSCOW, July 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is against any arms race in the Arctic, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.
Last week, Denmark announced its plans to establish an Arctic military command and a task force amid conflicting territorial claims by the five Arctic states.
Commenting on the development, Andrei Nesterenko told journalists that, "Russia is opposed to the unleashing of an arms race in the Arctic Region and suggests as an alternative the boosting of bilateral cooperation in issues of navigation safety, search and rescue and the prevention of ecological disasters."
He added that it was in Russia's national interests to maintain peace and cooperation in the region.
The Arctic territories, believed to hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves, have increasingly been at the center of disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice.
In March, the Russian Security Council outlined Russia's strategy in the region, including the deployment of military, border and coastal guard units "to guarantee Russia's military security in diverse military and political circumstances."