Russia launches the world’s largest nuclear-powered icebreaker on 25 May 2019 as the country responds to the commercial opportunities presented by melting Arctic sea ice.
The ship, dubbed the Ural and which was floated out from a dockyard in St Petersburg, is one of a trio that when completed will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world. The Ural is due to be handed over to Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in 2022 after the two other icebreakers in the same series, Arktika (Arctic) and Sibir (Siberia), enter service.
Russia is building new infrastructure and overhauling its ports as, amid warmer climate cycles, it readies for more traffic via what it calls the Northern Sea Route (NSR) which it envisages being navigable year-round.
President Vladimir Putin said in April Russia was stepping up construction of icebreakers with the aim of significantly boosting freight traffic along its Arctic coast. The drive is part of a push to strengthen Moscow’s hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the US and Norway, as well as newcomer China.