ARKHANGELSK (Sputnik) — The fifth international annual meeting of Arctic Council members along with foreign scientists and researchers is currently underway in the Russian northern city of Arkhangelsk.
"One of our priorities in the Arctic is to keep balance between the economic activity and the preservation of the unique environment, respect for the culture and traditional way of life of indigenous peoples. And, of course, we have consistently advocated the strengthening of cooperation with member states of the Arctic Council in all directions," Putin said.
The Arctic region has considerable reserves of minerals and energy, Putin said, adding that the Northern Sea Route — the shortest shipping route between Europe, the Far East and Asia-Pacific countries — passes through the region. He added that local environmental changes cannot be ignored as they affect the entire planet.
The Arctic is considered to be a major source of hydrocarbons, minerals, fresh water and fish. The region's resources are a matter of interest for countries bordering the area; the countries of the Arctic Council, including Canada, Denmark, Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, the United States and Sweden.
In 2013, Moscow announced a strategy to increase its presence in the Arctic and to boost the region's development by 2020.