The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, sees opportunities for container ships to sail via the Northern Sea Route from next year. Using this route ships can travel between Europe and East Asia sailing around Russia's northern coast, through the Arctic Ocean. This route is shorter than the current sea route via the Suez Canal to East Asia.
Putin made his statement on Friday (3 September) during the Eastern Economic Forum in the Russian Far East city of Vladivostok. According to the president, container ships should use the shipping route via the North Pole much more often. As an example, he mentioned container ships sailing from East Asia to the West Russian city of Saint Petersburg. At present, Russia makes little use of shipping because of the amount of ice in the ocean.
However, Russia regularly deploys nuclear icebreakers to keep the shipping route open. Now, however, due to global warming, the route is becoming more accessible to ships. In recent years, some shipping companies have already used the route, but only a few times.
According to Putin, Russia will not restrict other countries from using the route. In the past, the United States has accused Russia of forcing foreign ships to ask for permission to sail through the Arctic.