"America needs icebreakers. They have already allocated money for the construction of an icebreaker," Zasypkin said. "I doubt very much that they will turn to us for help in terms of technology. This is a political issue."
Zasypkin noted that there are countries with very good expertise in constructing icebreakers, but Russia’s expertise is unique and no country or entity can compete with it.
"The Americans are not planning to build atomic icebreakers, as I understand. As for the regular icebreakers, they may build them themselves or may bring somebody [in] like Finland or Sweden that build ships well," Zasypkin explained.
"We help them [the United States], especially concerning the icebreaker fleet," he noted.
In case of an emergency, Zasypkin said he believes it is unlikely that any country, including the United States will seek Russia’s help, if that help can only be provided by Moscow.
In September 2015, President Barack Obama announced a series of new US investments in the Arctic, only months after the United States took the chairmanship of the international Arctic Council. The investments included fast-tracking American icebreaker acquisition of new heavy icebreakers between 2020 and 2022.
The only US icebreaker currently operating in the Arctic is a medium icebreaker, the Healy. The United States’ only heavy icebreaker is deployed to Antarctica. A third icebreaker has been held in Seattle, Washington, and largely used for spare parts to repair the operating vessels.
Russia has a fleet of 40 icebreakers and additional 11 vessels under construction.