MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia should ensure its sovereignty over its Arctic territories, ensure the security of transport routes and economic activity in the region, the country's President Vladimir Putin said during his annual "Direct Line" Q&A session.
"We need to ensure that we can use these routes, that we can carry out economic activity on these territories, ensure our sovereignty over these territories," Putin said.
The president also noted that the Arctic was an extremely important region in terms of ensuring Russia's defense capabilities.
The budgets include, of course, more long-term plans. Perhaps, not everything is clear with funding of the Lider [the new nuclear-powered vessel], but I am confident that we will do this too," Putin said.
The president noted that the Baltic Shipyard was building Arktika, the first of of four LK-60Ya-class nuclear-powered icebreakers with a capacity of 60 megawatts.
"We should have one more icebreaker by 2025, of a completely different class, twice as powerful as the ones I have mentioned and the one which has almost been built, [with a capacity of] 120 megawatts. If they break ice of up to three meters deep [9.8 feet], the Lider will have no restrictions at all, it will be able to break any ice," Putin said.
Russia should deploy a missile launch control system in the Arctic region due to the activities of the US submarines approaching Russian borders in the region, Putin said.
"The specialists know that US submarines are on duty to the north of Norway. Missiles could reach Moscow in 15 minutes [from this area]. We should understand what is going on there, see what is going on there… We should protect this area in a proper way, to provide a border guard in the region. Additionally, the routes of the land-based US missiles located across the US territory are also there. We should take into consideration all these facts. Among other issues we should provide a missile warning system," Putin said.
The Russian leader added that Moscow had not paid enough attention to the region of Arctic, however the situation had changed.
In late January, media reported that Russian Aerospace Forces had restored in late 2016 their integrated radar field to control and warn of missile launches and attacks outside of state borders. However, the part of the field which monitors missile activity beyond the Arctic Circle had not become operational by that time.
In March last year, US nuclear submarines conducted five-week-long exercises in the Arctic region, and US officials said they should increase country's military presence in the Arctic in response to Russian research and military exercises in the region.