Vladimir Putin pledges "Russian Superiority" in the Arctic
On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia wanted to maintain its "superiority" in the Arctic and intended to renew its fleet of icebreakers to boost its presence there.
Moscow has stepped up its efforts to tap into the economic potential of the region, including by growing freight traffic from Murmansk in the Russian Arctic to the Bering Strait near Alaska on the Northern Sea Route.
Russia has also reopened abandoned Soviet military, air and radar bases in the energy-rich area in recent years as it campaigns for supremacy against Canadian, U.S., and Norwegian rivals as well as newcomer China.
Speaking at the unveiling in St. Petersburg of a new icebreaker, Putin pledged Russia will continue to modernize its Arctic fleet.
"It is well-known that we have a unique icebreaker fleet that holds a leading position in the development and study of Arctic territories. We must reaffirm this superiority constantly, every day. We must build up our positions, strengthen and update our fleet, introduce new advanced technologies in the construction of icebreakers and other vessels of that class," Putin stated.
According to Russian authorities, the latest diesel-electric icebreaker unveiled on Tuesday is the biggest and most powerful vessel of its kind in the world. It can crack ice up to 2 meters thick, has two helicopter pads, and can, among other items, engage in scientific expeditions and transport hazardous items.
Russia added what it said was the biggest and most powerful nuclear icebreaker in the world to its Arctic fleet in September.
Maritime Business World