Russian President Vladimir Putin told a media event on Thursday that Arctic security was a top priority: “we are back.”
According to the President, foreign tour guides in Franz Josef land now tell tourists that the islands once belonged to the Soviet Union. “That should concern us,” said Putin. “After all, this is our territory.”
The Nagurskoye military base in Franz Josef Land, located at 80 degrees north, commenced operation this year, and other Arctic bases are under construction.
Responding to media questions, Putin was forthright on security issues with the U.S., with the Independent Barents Observer noting his comments: “American submarines are on guard outside the coast of Norway, and their missile will need only 15 minutes to hit Moscow. We have to understand what is going on, see what is going on, we have to protect this coast in a corresponding way, and provide protection of the border.”
He said that the flight route of ground-based missiles located in the U.S. passes precisely over the North Pole. “I hope it will never come to that, but since we are aware of it, we just need to make sure that the missile warning system and the missile launch control system are in place. This is what the Arctic means to us.”
Putin also confirmed that four LK60 icebreakers will be build as well as the Lider, a new class of icebreaker twice as powerful as the others. With a capacity of 120 megawatts, the vessels will be able to break ice of up to three meters (9.8 feet) deep, while the Lider will have no restrictions and will be able to break any ice, said Putin. The vessels are expected to be delivered by 2025.
The economic importance of the region was also considered, with Putin saying: "The Arctic region is very important for securing the future of the country. It is safe to say that Russia will boost power through the Arctic region, as around 30 percent of hydrocarbons will be produced there by 2050," he said