Putin touts Russia's 'Arctic power' as icebreaker launched

STORY: Presiding via video link from the Kremlin at the launch ceremony in the former imperial capital of St. Petersburg, Putin said such icebreakers were of strategic importance for the country.

"Both icebreakers were laid down as part of a large serial project and are part of our large-scale, systematic work to re-equip and replenish the domestic icebreaker fleet, to strengthen Russia's status as a great Arctic power," Putin said.

The Arctic is taking on greater strategic significance due to climate change, as a shrinking ice cap opens up new sea lanes. Vast oil and gas resources lie in Russia's Arctic regions, including a liquefied natural gas plant on the Yamal Peninsula.

Putin smiled as the Yakutia nuclear icebreaker was launched into the water at the docks and stood as the Russian national anthem graced the raising of the Russian flag on the Ural icebreaker which will begin work in December.