Arctic countries gathered in Arkhangelsk, Russia, to discuss current issues relating to the region. Russian President Vladimir Putin with his Finnish and Icelandic counterparts Sauli Niinistö and Guðni Th. Jóhannesson also participated in a panel discussion hosted by CNBC on March 30 that included issues like the price of commodities, global warming, security in the Arctic region and Russia’s relations with the West.
However, given the relatively low cost of oil and other minerals, the projects in the Arctic appear to be economically unviable at the moment. But Putin said it’s highly unlikely that anything will change Russia’s priorities in the region.
The Russian President noted that 10 percent of Russia’s GDP is the result of the economic activity of enterprises operating in this region and their contribution continues to grow. Another significant factor is the growth and growing efficiency of cutting edge technologies that are constantly evolving, Putin said.
“The second significant factor that heartens us is climate change,” the Kremlin leader said, according to a CNBC Transcript.
However, Putin said it’s not about preventing climate change. “The question is how to adapt to it,” he said, adding that the number of days that you can navigate the Northern Sea Route has been going up dramatically of late, which means that we’ll have better transportation capabilities.
“But also, yesterday (March 29), as you know, I visited the extreme north region of Franz Josef Land, it’s 900 kilometres away from the Arctic Pole, and our experts, our scientists told me yesterday that they have been observing the constant melting of snow and glaciers there, which the Finnish President also mentioned and this is a sign that climate change brings more favourable conditions to develop the economic potential of this region. If such trends continue, look what’s going to happen,” Putin said.
Currently, along the Northern Sea Route 1.4 million tonnes of cargo is being transported and by 2035 this figure is going to be 30 million. He said the implementation of the massive Yamal LNG (liquefied natural gas) project would have been inconceivable in the past. “But it will become operational at the end of this year,” he said, adding that it will produce 16.5 million tonnes of LNG and shipping volumes will increase four-fold along the Northern Sea Route and this will go in both directions, from Europe to Asia and vice versa. “All this shows that our plans to tap into this region of the globe are justified,” Putin said.
Niinistö highlighted the recurring thread of climate change. “Tackling this challenge is crucial, if we want to ensure that the Arctic remains the place it is today. But the issue is of global significance. If we lose the Arctic, we lose the whole world. Global warming is a well-documented fact,” the Finnish President said.
For his part, Jóhannesson said that for Iceland, the Arctic plays an important role. “We need to address concerns increased sea traffic in the Arctic Ocean,” he said.
Turning to security, Putin said Russia is developing its border and military capabilities on its own territory. But he stressed that Russia is not going to wage wars or compete with the United States in Arctic.
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