Putin authorizes new nuclear icebreaker for Arctic trade amid Western sanctions
Vladimir Putin was present at a St. Petersburg shipyard, where he announced the decision to construct the new nuclear-powered icebreaker. He revealed that the ship would be named "Leningrad" during the launch ceremony.
The Russian leader stated in his speech that the icebreaker is anticipated to partake in "important research and development programs in the Arctic" and provide significant trade support. This new strategy was necessitated by Western sanctions imposed on Russia following its attack on Ukraine.
These circumstances have compelled Vladimir Putin to find new solutions. He decided to utilize the Northern Sea Route, crossing the Arctic Ocean, to decrease costs and reduce trade transportation times to Asian countries.
Putin declared his intent to increase the icebreaker fleet. He noted their critical role in many northern regions of the Russian Federation, where the arrival of such ships is highly anticipated and where resupply will be consistent.
Putin might face significant challenges in executing his plans
Presently, Russia is the sole user and producer of nuclear-powered icebreakers.
According to TASS, the "Leningrad" will be a fifth-generation icebreaker. The measurements are expected to reach over 567 feet in length, 111 feet in width, and 170 feet in height, with an anticipated crew of 52.
The decision to build such a vessel indicates a step towards resolving a more significant issue. Speculations among observers suggest that the Russian leader might struggle to implement the plan introduced alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The plan envisions the Northern Sea Route as an alternative to the Suez Canal route. Putin aims to double sea transport through this route by 2024, which could be an overambitious plan. Alexey Chekunkov has pointed out the lengthy construction time of icebreakers and the current lack of shipyards capable of producing them.