MOSCOW- Russia is to beef up its military forces all the way from its western border to the Pacific islands amid ongoing strains with the West, the military told Friday.
No financial details were disclosed but the buildup will likely be costly and takes place at a time when the Russian economy is in recession under the dual impact of low oil prices and Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its role in the Ukrainian crisis.
While announcing the buildup, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the deployment of NATO's forces-out near Russia's perimeters has caused concern. As part of a response, he told new units in the Western Military District, including 2 new divisions, will be formed.
The military forces in western Russia will receive 1,100 new weapons systems, including warplanes, helicopters, tanks and other armored vehicles.
In the far east, the military will deploy state-of-the art Bal and Bastion anti-ship missile systems and new dronings to the southern Kurils, a group of islands that Japan calls the Northern Territories and claims as its own.
The dispute over the islands, which were confiscated by the Soviet army in the closing days of World War II, has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty to formally end their hostilities.
The anti-ship missile systems to be deployed on the disputed islands are capable of making targets more than 185 miles away.
Shoigu told Russia is also mulling the possibility of setting up a naval base on the islands. Ships of Russia's Pacific Fleet will visit the region in the summer to examine possible locatings, he said.
The defense minister said the military will also continue to strengthen its presence in the Arctic region. As part of efforts to build military facilities on Wrangel Island and Cape Schmidt, the Defense Ministry delivered 9,500 metric tons of equipment and materials during last year's brief navigation season, he said.
The Kremlin has made expanding Russia's military presence in order to protect the country's national interests in the Arctic a top priority in light of increasing international interest in the region's vast oil and other resources.
Across Siberia, the military is concentrated in deploying top-of-the line air defense missile systems to protect the vast region, Shoigu said.
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