"The new command will comprise the Northern Fleet, Arctic warfare brigades, air force and air defense units as well as additional administrative structures," a source in Russia's General Staff told RIA Novosti.
Russia created the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command to protect oil and gas fields on the Arctic shelf.
Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States — the five countries that have a border with the Arctic — have been rushing to secure rights to drill for oil and natural gas in places that are now accessible. Hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake. Experts estimate that the Arctic holds some 30 percent of the world's natural gas supply, and 13 percent of the world's oil. That's why companies like Royal Dutch Shell, the U.S.-based Arctic Oil & Gas Corp. and Russia's Gazprom have all been making exploration claims on land in the Arctic.
Countries are making new claims in the Arctic as well. Each of the five nations with Arctic borders is allotted 200 nautical miles of land from their most northern coast. Putin's military expansion was in direct response to a claim of additional land by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who last year asked scientists to craft a submission to the United Nations arguing that the North Pole belongs to Canada. The Canadian claim also asserts that it owns the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain range located between Ellesmere Island, Canada's most northern border, and Russia's east Siberian coast.
The American Department of Defense last November released a new Arctic strategy outlining American interests in the region. The new strategy calls for the Pentagon to take actions to ensure that American troops could repel an attack against the homeland from a foe based in the Arctic and calls for increased training to prepare soldiers for fights in Arctic conditions. It makes clear that the Pentagon believes the Arctic is becoming contested territory, and the DOD would act to protect American interests.