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Putin is seeking a major expansion of Arctic trade in the Northeast Passage


Russia wants to roughly quadruple shipping traffic on the Northeast Passage via the Arctic Ocean, from the 36 million tons carried last year to as much as 150 million tons, President Vladimir Putin said at an economic meeting on Friday.

“In the future, transportation could increase to 150 million tons,” Putin told the 27th International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg (SPIEF). The 36 million tons moved last year consisted of cargo transported on the Northern Sea Route between Europe and Asia.

Russia is expanding the sea route along its northern coast and building land transport routes to its Arctic ports, Putin said.

The Arctic route between Europe and Asia is considerably shorter than the Indian Ocean routes, but is blocked by ice for much of the year. Climate change extends the navigable time.

One of the applications for which Russia uses the route is the transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by ship from the port of Sabetta on Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula to customers in Asia.

Moscow also plans to build new nuclear icebreakers to keep the route open longer and increase its presence in the Arctic Ocean. Many Russian ports along the northern coast are not connected to the road or rail network.

Critics fear an increase in shipping traffic could harm the sensitive Arctic environment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. -/Kremlin/dpa

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