President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday that Russia must invest more in the Arctic amid tough competition from other nations for the region's mineral riches.
Medvedev said in televised remarks to workers in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk that Russia will take the necessary security steps and other moves to protect its interests in the polar region.
"We simply must continue our research of the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic in general, because if we fail to do that other countries will take control," Medvedev said. "It's our shores, and it's our sea."
"We will defend our interests in the region, naturally including security issues," he added.
Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, believed to hold up to a quarter of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas.
With shrinking polar ice opening up new opportunities for exploration, Russia, Canada and Denmark have said they would file claims with the United Nations that an undersea 2,000-kilometer mountain range that crosses the polar region called the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of their respective territories.
In 2007, Russia staked a symbolic claim to Arctic seabed by dropping a canister containing the Russian flag on the ocean floor from a small submarine at the North Pole. Russia first submitted its claim in 2001 to the United Nations, but it was sent back for lack of evidence. Russia said it will resubmit the claim after collecting more scientific data.
An Arctic strategy paper signed by Medvedev in 2008 said the polar region must become Russia's "top strategic resource base" by 2020.