SEVERODVINSK, Russia - Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw the start of construction of one of Russia's newest generation submarines on Monday and vowed to boost nuclear naval forces to safeguard the country's position as a leading sea power.
Warning that its navy would protect top energy producer Russia's interests in the oil-rich Arctic, Putin led the ceremony to begin building the submarine Prince Vladimir, named after the ruler who founded a precursor state to modern Russia.
The vessel is the fourth Borei class submarine, designed to carry one of the country's newest and most powerful intercontinental nuclear missiles, the Bulava, or Mace.
"We believe that our country should maintain its status of one of the leading naval powers," Putin told a meeting of naval commanders and government officials at the sprawling Sevmash shipbuilding yard in northern Russia.
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