Canada alerted by Russian plans to drop paratroopers in Arctic

July 31, 2009 11:46 pm 

OTTAWA, Aug. 1 — Canada is closely watching Russian plans to drop paratroopers in the Arctic next April and will always be prepared to counter any challenge to its territory, Defense Minister Peter MacKay said Friday.

"Any country that is approaching Canadian airspace, Canadian territory, will be met by Canadians," MacKay said Friday in the eastern port city of Halifax.

"We're going to protect our sovereign territory and we're always to meet any challenge to that territorial sovereignty, " he said, without giving any details about the actions to be taken.

A Russian general announced plans this week to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first parachute drop at the North Pole by sending paratroopers to the same site.

Tensions over Arctic territory have increased in recent years, as countries become more interested in the resources buried under Arctic ice.

Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Norway are increasing Arctic forces or increasing training for existing forces.

International experts say the military buildup indicates that nations with territory in the resource-rich Arctic believe that armed conflict in the high north is a very real possibility.

In January, Canada announced it had sent two CF-18 fighter jets to intercept a Russian bomber flying towards Canadian airspace. (PNA/Xinhua) ALM

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