Russia is planning a major military expansion of their arctic naval fleet to celebrate the birthday of their leader Vladimir Putin.
The decision on establishing a new Russian Arctic Fleet is aimed at securing future gas and other energy supplies in polar regions.
The expansion, which was announced on Putin’s 69th birthday, will help give Russia control of the so-called Northern Sea Route.
Commercial shipping on the route has now become viable due to climate change melting the frozen ocean, making it a lucrative area for Russia.
“The Russian Arctic Fleet, a new structure, is under consideration,” a naval source told state news agency TASS.
“It will be a separate formation within the Navy, and its responsibility will be to ensure the safety of the Northern Sea Route and the Arctic coast.”
The Northern and Pacific fleets currently monitor the area, but under the new blueprint they will be freed up to handle “combat missions”.
"The plan is that the infrastructure of the new association will be separate from the Northern and Pacific fleets,” said the source.
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“In the future, it will have ships and special equipment suitable for the Arctic.”
Russia currently has the Northern, Pacific, Baltic, and Black Sea fleets as well as the Caspian flotilla.
The new fleet, which is seen as a ‘birthday present” to Putin, comes as the Russian leader is the focus of attention in Europe over gas supplies.
Putin has hinted at boosting supplies as Europe waits to see if the Russian leader follows through.
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He also said that shipping greater volumes of gas through Ukraine is “economically unprofitable for Gazprom – because it is more expensive”.
Putin has appeared to make strides towards a supply boost using the controversial new Nord Stream-2 pipeline between Russia and Germany under the Baltic.
He said: “Supply through new pipeline systems that were commissioned in recent years and are being commissioned now reduces the amount of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by 5.6 times.”
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Putin also said European leaders should admit their mistakes in switching to short term gas contracts.
“Today it has become absolutely obvious that this policy is erroneous,” Putin said.
“As a result, now the gas price has broken all historical records and today it’s already striving to $2,000 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters.”
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