President Vladimir Putin :
Dear Artur Nikolaevich, dear Anatolii Mikhailovich!
First of all I would like to warmly congratulate you both and all of the expedition’s participants on the results of your work. The work was very interesting, responsibly executed, important for our country, and rather dangerous. I am not going to go into the details of our activities in these polar latitudes and our cooperation with our partners. I know that your expedition was an international one and contained experts from various countries, not only from Russia. This in itself is a great success, both for scientists and all those involved in this project. I would like to congratulate you and wish you further successes!
Artur Chilingarov :
Thank you. It really was an international expedition that was also part of a Russian expedition. It was very important for us that we all acted in the same way: Russians, a Swede, and our great friend, a polar explorer from Australia. Our expedition had representatives from other countries as well.
Of course this was a difficult expedition and we prepared it for many years because deep-water submersibles had never been used in the Arctic Region. We had to complete it during the International Polar Year. As your special representative I was able to involve the Rossiia nuclear icebreaker in our work. It towed the Akademik Fedorov research vessel with the deep-water submersibles on board all the way to the North Pole. And therefore the first descent to the bottom of the Arctic Ocean took place right at the North Pole.
Together we descended 4,300 metres. Naturally, this was first of all the achievement of science. But it would have been wrong to be there and not to plant the Russian flag – Russia has always been an Arctic power. One crew descended and we came up again with difficulty, I can honestly say that it was difficult because the hole we had made in the ice was drifting. We took the submersible out right at the same place where we dove but in the time that we were below – we spent nine hours underwater – of course it had changed quite a bit.
Anatolii Sagalevich : The hole in the ice had shrunk.
Vladimir Putin : Anatolii Mikhailovich, how would you evaluate the expedition’s results?
Anatolii Sagalevich : This certainly was a unique experiment. Manned deep-water submersibles descended 4,300 metres under the ice for the first time. Of course it was difficult and retrieving the vessels from the hole in the ice was a special challenge. Now we know how to do this. Of course all were worried because of how difficult the experiment was, but it nevertheless ended well. We took soil samples, water samples, and hydro-physical and hydro-chemical measurements. Of course this is a tribute to our deep-water crew and we need to say this. People were able to equip the Akademik Fedorov ship so that the Mir submersibles could dive in a very short time frame. We must say that the Institute of Oceanology has a unique team, probably the only one in the world that operates these two Mir deep-water submersibles. And this was a very interesting experiment in the ice and now we know how to work in arctic conditions. This is very important for our future research endeavours and this knowledge can also be applied, something that is equally important.
Vladimir Putin : What do you have in mind when you say ‘applied’?
Anatolii Sagalevich: You are aware that the Arctic is interesting in a number of ways: it contains both mineral resources and vast reserves of energy, and we need to develop both of these things.
Artur Chilingarov: I would like to continue by saying that we took samples that we will now examine in more detail. We believe that the North Pole is the continuation of the northern part of the Russian shelf. I am not going to talk about other implications now. We spent an hour and a half on the bottom of the ocean and we saw what looked like a lunar landscape, an amazing sight.
Vladimir Putin : Of course we will have to discuss with our colleagues and prove in international organisations whether or not it is a continuation of our shelf.
Artur Chilingarov: Yes, in the United Nations and in the law of the sea. We are aware of that.
Vladimir Putin : We need the results of your expedition to act as the basis of Russia’s position when addressing these problems.