MOSCOW, June 4 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin is to hold a round-table discussion on Arctic exploration with science and business experts in Saint Petersburg on June 5, the Kremlin said Wednesday.
“Issues of scientific support for Arctic exploration and environmental safety in offshore projects are to be discussed at this event. Additionally, the president will confer state awards upon organizers and members of the research team involved in drilling into the sub-glacial lake Vostok [in Antarctica],” the statement said.
In 2012, Russian researchers became the first in the world to reach the waters of Lake Vostok after more than decades of drilling. Last year, Russian researchers found unidentified bacteria in a water sample taken from the lake.
Russia regards the North Pole as one of its top priorities. The discovery of large hydrocarbon deposits in the Arctic has sparked international competition over the region’s resources.
Last year, Moscow unveiled a strategy aimed at increasing its presence in the Arctic and boosting the region's development by 2020. Experts say it may take Russia five to seven years to ratchet up its Arctic exploration effort to what it was during its golden era in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
In April, Putin said that a united system of naval bases for ships and next-generation submarines will be created in the Arctic to defend Russia’s interests in the region. He urged the speedy completion of modern navigation infrastructure, communications, technical services and emergency care to be established along the Northern Sea Route – from Russia’s Far East to Murmansk on the Barents Sea.