Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Russia, held a press conference yesterday laying his country’s claim to the famed Northeast passage and promising to modernise the infrastructure needed for Moscow to claim the region. The passage has long been used by Russia to move domestic cargo on a seasonal basis but the comments on Thursday show a desire to open the route to international cargos.
This news comes one year after Russia supported the successful voyage of a gas tanker from its northwestern port of Murmansk to China.
“We see the future of the Northeast passage as that of an international transport artery capable of competing with traditional maritime routes when it comes to service fees, safety and quality,” Putin told an international Arctic forum. He also mentioned that Russian experts believe the increased volume of traffic through the Northeast passage this year will reach a milestone with an estimated 700,000 tons of cargo delivered this year alone. “I do not doubt that this is just the beginning,”
“Our plans include modernizing river, automobile, rail, communications, airfields and airports as well as the renovation of Polar aviation,” Putin said. In addition to state facilities he plans to encourage trade with new subsidy programs stating, “The states and private companies which choose Arctic shipping will no doubt receive hefty economic advantages and dividends,”.
Russia’s plans are just part of Russia’s strategy to stake the energy-rich Arctic that is beginning to open up as polar ice recedes.
“It is transport, with the creation of new sea and air corridors, that is capable of becoming a breakthrough project of uniting Arctic states,” Putin concluded.