NUCLEAR POWERED ICEBREAKERS
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Context: President Vladimir Putin touted Russia’s Arctic power at a flag-raising ceremony and dock launch for two nuclear-powered icebreakers that will ensure year-round navigation in the Western Arctic.
- Both icebreakers were laid down as part of a large serial project and are part of large-scale, systematic work to re-equip and replenish the domestic icebreaker fleet, to strengthen Russia’s status as a great Arctic power.
- The Arctic is taking on greater strategic significance due to climate change, as a shrinking ice cap opens up new sea lanes. Vast oil and gas resources lie in Russia’s Arctic regions, including a liquefied natural gas plant on the Yamal Peninsula.
- The 173.3-metre Yakutia, with a displacement of up to 33,540 tonnes, can smash through ice of up to three metres. It will enter service in 2024.
- Two other icebreakers in the same series, the Arktika and the Sibir, are already in service, and another, the Chukotka, is scheduled for 2026.
- A super-powerful nuclear 209-metre icebreaker known as Rossiya, with a displacement of up to 71,380 tonnes, would be completed by 2027. It will be able to break through ice four metres thick.
- They are needed for the study and development of the Arctic, to ensure safe, sustainable navigation in this region.