Saturday. 20.04.2024
Russia aims to expand its presence in the Arctic and the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which Moscow is scheduled to take over next month, should be used to further this aim, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said in Moscow on Wednesday.

"This is an opportunity to strengthen our country's role as a coordinator and initiator of many programmes in the region," he said, according to Interfax news agency.

He did not provide any further details.

Beyond Russia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Sweden and the United States are also members of the Arctic Council.

It is a forum for cooperation and aims to focus on sustainable development and environmental protection in the region around the North Pole.

Russia, however, lays claim to raw materials on the Arctic seabed and has recently ramped up its military presence there.

Russia also plans to use new icebreakers in order to make the Arctic passable for shipping throughout the year.

North-East Passage

Ships could sail through the North-East Passage along Russia's Arctic coast all year round in the very near future, Russian President Vladimir Putin said recently.

To this end, the country is currently building the "most efficient icebreaker fleet in the world," he said.

Last year, Moscow revealed that it was planning to built the largest nuclear icebreaker to date, the Leader.

In March, attention turned to alternative shipping routes between Asia and Europe after the Suez Canal was blocked for days by a container ship.

Russia plans to expand its reach in the Arctic