Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, June 20th, 2019

Putin Presents Ambitious Arctic Expansion Program

Putin Presents Ambitious Arctic Expansion Program

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday put forward an ambitious program to secure Russia’s foothold in the Arctic, including efforts to build new ports and other infrastructure facilities and expand an icebreaker fleet.
Speaking at the Arctic forum in St. Petersburg attended by leaders of Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway, Putin said that Russia plans to dramatically increase cargo shipments across the Arctic sea route.
He said that the amount of cargo carried across the shipping lane is set to increase from 20 million metric tons last year to 80 million tons in 2025.
“This is a realistic, well-calculated and concrete task,” Putin said.
He noted that Russia, the only nation with a nuclear icebreaker fleet, is moving to expand it.
Russia currently has four nuclear icebreakers, and Putin said that three new such ships are currently under construction. By 2035, Russia stands to have a fleet of 13 heavy icebreakers, including nine nuclear-powered ones, he said.
The Russian leader said that Russia plans to expand the ports on both sides of the Arctic shipping route — Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Kamchatka Peninsula — and invited foreign companies to invest in the reconstruction project.
Other ports and infrastructure facilities along the route will also be upgraded and expanded, he said.
Russia, the U.S., Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic as shrinking polar ice creates new opportunities for resource exploration and new shipping lanes.
Speaking at the forum, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg emphasized the need to respect international law and noted that the Arctic Council provides a key arena for dialogue. (AP)