Russia’s nuclear icebreakers and militarisation of the Arctic

Source– The post is based on the article “Russia’s nuclear icebreakers and militarisation of the Arctic” published in The Hindu on 25th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Effects of policies of developed and developing countries on India interest

Relevance: Increasing importance of Arctic

News- The article explains the increasing significance of the Arctic. It also explains the recent Russian efforts to increase its presence in this region.

The Russian President recently launched two nuclear-powered icebreakers Ural and Yakutia.

Why are Russian icebreakers significant?

The icebreakers were laid down as part of their systematic work to re-equip and replenish the domestic icebreaker fleet. There are two already similar vessels in service.

A much more powerful nuclear icebreaker “Rossiya” would be completed by 2027.

In the last two decades, Russia has reactivated several Soviet era Arctic military bases and upgraded its capabilities.

It will strengthen Russia’s status as a “great Arctic power”.

Northern sea route is important for Russia. It cuts down time to reach Asia by up to two weeks compared to the current route via the Suez canal.

Why are countries racing towards the Arctic?

There has been a race among Arctic states and near-Arctic states to augment their capabilities. They want to capitalise on the melting Arctic. Climate change is opening up the Arctic giving access to new routes and resources.

Russian military modernisation in the Arctic has prompted other Arctic states to join the race.

NATO has been conducting regular exercises in the region. Its partner countries are investing in upgrading military capabilities.

China has also announced ambitious plans for a ‘polar silk route’ to connect to Europe as well as building massive icebreakers.

Where does India stand with respect to the Arctic?

Since 2007, India has an Arctic research programme. It has undertaken as many as 13 expeditions till date.

In March 2022,India unveiled its first Arctic policy titled: ‘India and the Arctic: building a partnership for sustainable development’.

India is also one of the 13 Observers In the Arctic Council, the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation in the Arctic.

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