MOSCOW, June 15. /TASS/. Russia is prepared for cooperation with other countries in development of the Arctic territories, though it should provide own priority, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said during the annual televised question and answer session on Thursday.
"This region attracts active interest also from the so-called non-regional countries," he said. "This is good, we are prepared for cooperating with them, but we should provide our own priority."
During sightseeing tours to the Franz Joseph Land archipelago, some guides say about the islands: "formerly they belonged to the Soviet Union," the president said.
"Many foreign tourists are coming there, and some guides said quite openly to their groups: These islands formerly belonged to the Soviet Union." This should alert us, as it is our territory. Thus, we should organize use of those routes, we should be working in those territories, should have sovereignty of those territories," he said.
The Arctic region is an important region of Russia with huge potential, he went on. "The Arctic region is very important for securing the future of the country. It is safe to say that Russia will boost power through the Arctic region as around 30% of hydrocarbons will be produced there by 2050," he said.
Arctic is an extremely important region from the defense point of view, he added.
"Let us not forget the military aspect of the issue," Putin said. "The region is extremely important for ensuring the country’s defense capabilities. I do not want to alarm anyone, but experts know well that the US nuclear submarines are deployed to northern Norway, their missiles may reach Moscow in 15 minutes," the Russian president went on to say. "We all should understand what is going on there. We must protect this coast and ensure border control. In addition, as far as strategic weapons are concerned… hope that things will not come to that, but just in case, the US land-based missiles will fly over that area… This is what the Arctic is. We did not tackle this issue not because it was not important but because we were not able to do it and had to put it aside. Just like many other things vital for our country, unfortunately. But now we have addressed the matter again," Putin said.