President Vladimir Putin says that Russia should beef up its presence in the Arctic for economic and military reasons.

Putin said Tuesday that the Arctic holds rich oil and gas and mineral resources. He also argued that the Arctic region is important for national security reasons. Both Russia and the United States have a strong navy presence in the region.

Putin made the comments at a meeting with students after being asked to comment on suggestions that Russia and other countries relinquish Arctic territory to help protect the environment.

Putin has harshly criticized such suggestions.