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Russia, eyeing Arctic future, launches nuclear icebreaker

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2 min read
  1. Russia has launched a nuclear-powered icebreaker called Ural. It is part of an ambitious programme to renew and expand its fleet of vessels in order to improve its ability to tap the Arctic’s commercial potential.
  2. Ural is one of a trio which when it will be completed will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world. Russia is looking for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the United States and Norway, as well as newcomers like China.
  3. The Ural is due to be handed over to Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in 2022 after the two other icebreakers in the same series, Arktika (Arctic) and Sibir (Siberia) enters service.
  4. Russia is building new infrastructure and overhauling its ports as amid warmer climate cycles, it readies for more traffic through what it calls the Northern Sea Route (NSR) which it envisages being navigable year-round.
  5. Russia hopes the route which runs from Murmansk to the Bering Strait near Alaska could take off as it cuts sea transport times from Asia to Europe.
  6. The Arctic holds oil and gas reserves equivalent to 412 billion barrels of oil, about 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates.
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