Russian military drill to assert sovereignty

14.09.2011 11:19:25 (GMT+12)

A Russian military official has said that the latest military drill off Russia's Far East is designed to protect its sovereignty over the continental shelf in the region.

Fifty Russian warships and 50 aircraft are taking part in the military exercise, which began in waters around the Kamchatka Peninsula at the beginning of this month.

Russia's naval vessels en route to join the drill were spotted crossing the Strait of Soya off Hokkaido on Friday.

The drill is the largest in the region since the end of the cold war.

An official from Russia's Pacific Ocean Fleet based in Vladivostok in the Far East told NHK that the continental shelf stretching around Kamchatka and the northern Pacific is abundant in natural resources, and the drill aims to protect them.

Russia has also recently been pushing its claim over the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, where the diminishing glaciers are exposing a resource-rich seabed.

That has put the country at odds with Canada and other countries in the region.