Russia has the most powerful nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet in the world and will continue to develop it, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a Kremlin Russia Day celebration.
“We have the most powerful icebreaker fleet actually, the most powerful nuclear icebreaker fleet is in Russia, and we are developing it. We are going to build several more next-generation, very powerful icebreakers in the near future, including the ‘Lider’ [‘Leader’, Project 10510].
There is currently no such icebreaker in the world and never was, not even here [in Russia],” Putin said on Saturday. The Russian President specified that “Lider” will be able to break through ice of any thickness, up to 3 meters (10 feet).
Russia is currently constructing the third and fourth Project 22220 serial icebreakers, Yakutia and Chukotka, with delivery scheduled for 2024 and 2026, respectively.
In May, US Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said that the US was discussing plans to lease a heavy icebreaker to increase its presence in the Arctic while building a ship of its own – a process that could take up to a decade.
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Earlier, Russian news agency Tass reported that the icebreaker could become operational by 2027 when the economic crisis could end and search for Polar resources and the shortest Northern Sea Route from the Pacific to the Atlantic would commence.
Historically, Russia enjoys supremacy in the Arctic and the Russian Defense Ministry is tasked with rebuilding military infrastructure in the region. Many experts also argue that a powerful fleet of icebreakers is to secure full-scale activities in the Arctic, even when global warming strikes the planet.
Russian icebreakers have ensured its economic interests are secured in the Arctic, however, the US and China are seriously working on icebreakers for Arctic operations and thus challenging the Russian monopoly.
The Leader is the first icebreaker in the world capable of operating in the Northern Sea Route year-round. Rosatom plans to build three icebreakers by 2033.
With additional inputs from The EurAsian Times Desk