President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday oversaw the launch of a new nuclear-powered icebreaker as Russia pushes to develop the Arctic and seeks new energy markets amid sanctions over Ukraine.
Addressing a Saint Petersburg ceremony for the launch of the Yakutia icebreaker by video link, Putin said such vessels were of “strategic” importance for Russia. In addition to floating out the Yakutia, authorities also symbolically raised a flag on another nuclear-powered icebreaker, the Ural.
The Ural and the Yakutia are part of a fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers that are meant to ensure Moscow’s dominance over the melting Arctic.
The Kremlin chief vowed to develop his country’s nuclear fleet despite current difficulties in Russia’s economy and production in an apparent reference to Western sanctions over Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine. “We will increase the capabilities of our nuclear icebreaker fleet,” Putin said.