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Putin highlighted Arctic interests

Photo: rgo.ru

We have many, many interests in the Arctic, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin highlighted when visiting Franz Jozef Land recently.

-We have naval bases here, an interest in extracting natural resources and important transport routes. Many, many interest, Putin said in a video recorded by the Russian Geographical Society.

The visit to the Russian Arctic archipelago took place already on 16 April in connection with the prime minister’s trip to Murmansk. However, information about the trip was distributed only last week, after President Dmitry Medvedev’s historic state visit to Norway.

Analysts now speculate about the connection between Putin’s trip to Franz Josef Land and Medvedev’s trip to Oslo. The Prime Minister’s office might have deliberately held back information about the visit in order not to disturb talks with the Norwegians. It might also have used to illustrate Russian presence and interests in the region in the wake of the announced deal with the Norwegians.

The Russian-Norwegian border delimitation agreement in the Barents Sea, announced on Tuesday last week, settles a 40 years unsolved issue in the region and opens up for new industrial activities in the area.

During his visit to the archipelago, Putin visited the country’s northernmost border checkpoint located on the Carl Alexander Island. He highlighted the need for high environmental standards in the region and called for the clean-up of the Soviet-era industrial wastes still polluting the vulnerable nature. Putin also tagged and collared a polar bear as part of the Russian Geographical Society’s expedition, the Moscow Times reports.