Moscow: Russian President, Vladimir Putin justified the rapid and comprehensive actions, taken by Russia in the Arctic region, ‘If we don’t take necessary measures at the right time, the Arctic will become like Crimea, and I don’t want to see Crimea turned into a desert.’ Putin, on Tuesday, announced the Arctic Plan, envisaging Nuclear Icebreakers, military bases and development of new ports for trade.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin mentioned the strength of the Russian defence forces, in the Arctic region, while addressing the nation, in March, last year. He had asserted that Russia is carrying out Scientific research, and infrastructure development for transport, in the region and the stress will also be on building military bases and deployment of advanced weaponry. Following that, in September, Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu announced the inclusion of the destroyer Admiral Gorshkov, icebreaker ship Ilya Muromets and five more ships in the Northern Fleet operational in the Arctic region.
A few days ago, it was revealed that Russia had activated a new military base in the Arctic. After that, the leading Russian oil company, Rosneft indicated increasing investment in the Arctic sector. The Arctic plan announced by President Putin becomes significant, against this background. President Putin clarified that, under this plan, ambitious steps would be taken in both, investment and defence sectors, to firm-up the Russian position in the Arctic.
Russia currently has four Nuclear Icebreakers, and Russia is the only country to have Nuclear Icebreakers, in the Arctic region. Putin announced that stress would be on adding Nuclear Icebreakers, which could be used for both trade and military purposes, to the fleet. There is work in progress on three Nuclear Icebreakers in Russia and the Russian President asserted that there will be a fleet of 13 Nuclear Icebreakers, with Russia, by 2035.
Putin had already clarified that Russia had military and geographic interests in the Arctic region. Therefore, the Russian President informed the along with activation of the old military bases; new military bases will be built in the region. Russia has activated three military bases, in the Arctic region and two more are being built. Putin indicated the building of new trade ports in the Arctic, over and above the military bases.
The Russian President also claimed ‘Current trade from the Arctic is to the tune of 20 million tonnes, and the target is to take this trade to 80 million tonnes, till 2025. This is a very realistic and accurate target.’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov justified the military bases in the Arctic and warned that the decision has been taken, keeping in view the political and military situation there.
The leaders from Norway, Sweden and Finland also attended the Arctic meet organised by Russia. The Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, criticised the Russia actions, saying that no country should behave as if it has monopolistic rights over the Arctic region. The United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greenland and China along with Russia have claimed rights over the Arctic region. The analysts have warned that the competition over the Arctic in intensifying because of these claims and the competition can culminate into a war.