Putin tours Arctic archipelago where Russia is building military base

Click to play video: 'Vladimir Putin visits Arctic archipelago' Vladimir Putin visits Arctic archipelago
WATCH ABOVE: Russian President Vladimir Putin along with the country's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visit the largest island in Franz Josef Land Archipelago in the Arctic – Mar 29, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting an Arctic archipelago as part of the country’s efforts to reaffirm its foothold in the region.

Putin toured the Franz Josef Land archipelago, a cluster of 192 islands where the Russian military has recently built a new runway and worked to open a permanent base.

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Click to play video: 'Edmonton soldiers participate in dangerous Arctic operation' Edmonton soldiers participate in dangerous Arctic operation
Edmonton soldiers participate in dangerous Arctic operation – Feb 26, 2016

During Wednesday’s trip, Putin inspected a cavity in a glacier that scientists use to study permafrost. He also spoke with environmental experts who have worked to clean the area of Soviet-era debris.

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Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and other senior officials accompanied him.

The Kremlin has named reaffirming the Russian presence in the Arctic as a top priority amid an intensifying rivalry over the region that is believed to hold up to one-quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas.

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