Lavrov defends Russia's military buildup in the Arctic

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday defended the country’s increased military presence in the Arctic amid intensifying tension with the U.S., Bloomberg News reported.

“We don’t threaten anyone. We ensure sufficient defense capabilities given the political and military situation around our borders,” Lavrov said Tuesday at the International Arctic Forum in St. Petersburg. “We will always be ready to defend our security, interests and territorial integrity.”

Russia holds about half the Arctic coastline and has increased its air and naval activity in the area in addition to building new bases, according to Bloomberg.

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U.S. Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, head of U.S. Northern Command, said in January that the region is the “front line in our defense” against attacks on the North American continent, the outlet noted.

O’Shaughnessy said in February that Russia was deploying cruise missile systems in the Arctic that would increase its leverage over a broad swath of the Northern Sea Route.

Lavrov's defense comes amid flaring tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the possible purchase of a Russian air defense system by Turkey.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanWhy Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary Five questions for Trump's new defense secretary on first major tour Trump says media is part of vetting his nominees: 'We save a lot of money that way' MORE last week indicated that he expects Turkey to abandon its plans to buy a Russian air defense system, one day after Washington ceased all deliveries of F-35 fighter aircraft equipment to the NATO ally over the purchase.