Vladimir Putin on Tuesday oversaw the launch of a nuclear-powered icebreaker as he vowed to control the Arctic.
Addressing a Saint Petersburg ceremony for the launch of the Yakutia icebreaker by video link, Putin said such vessels were of “strategic” importance for Russia.
In addition to floating out the Yakutia, authorities also symbolically raised a flag on another nuclear-powered icebreaker, the Ural.
The ships are part of a fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers that are meant to ensure Moscow’s dominance over the melting Arctic.
“Both icebreakers were laid down as part of a large serial project and are part of our large-scale, systematic work to re-equip and replenish the domestic icebreaker fleet, to strengthen Russia’s status as a great Arctic power,” he said.
The vessels are designed to resist extreme weather conditions, have a length of 568 feet and can smash through ice up to 2.8 metres thick.
The Arctic is taking on greater strategic significance as a shrinking ice cap opens up new sea lanes.
Vast oil and gas resources lie in Russia’s Arctic regions, including a liquefied natural gas plant on the Yamal Peninsula.