The US, Canada, Norway and Russia have all beefed up their naval presence in Arctic waters
Sunday October 23, 2080 AD
By Will Stewart
RUSSIA is to build an ultra-modern polar city on a frozen island inside the Arctic Circle in the Kremlin’s latest bid to back its claims to vast oil and gas reserves under the polar ice cap.
Named Umka after a popular Soviet-era cartoon polar bear cub, the city’s 5,000 residents will live under a vast dome to protect them from winter temperatures of well below -30C.
Architect Valery Rzhevskiy, who has shown the designs to Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin, said: “This city will be of strategic importance as Russia’s northern outpost.”
Sources say it will house soldiers, border guards and secret service officers, as well as scientists and explorers, as Moscow gets serious about its claims to Arctic mineral riches.
All will enjoy a luxury lifestyle in the cocooned city, which will have its own specially regulated climate as well as a variety of other attractive features.
Mr Rzhevskiy added: “We aim to have laboratories, houses, but also parks, an Aqua complex, hotels and a cathedral. Naturally there will be schools, kindergartens, recreation zones, a hospital and sport facilities.
“We want people who will be living and working here not to realise they are in some closed space with an aggressive Arctic climate outside.”
Nicknamed “wonder city”, it will be built at a cost of up to £4billion on the remote island of Kotelny, in the Novosibirsk archipelago, 1,000 miles from the North Pole.
Strong winds make it one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. Even in July the temperature barely climbs above freezing.
The Umka designs are based on the International Space Station, but it is vast by comparison, just short of a mile long and 800 yards wide.
“So far it is the only project in the world with an artificial climate and integral life support, just like on the space station,” Mr Rzhevskiy said.
“Not only is it a new word in architecture but in human living too. We have used aero and space technologies while creating it.”
Electricity will be supplied by a floating nuclear power station. It will be totally self-sufficient with fish and poultry farms, greenhouses, a wheat processing factory and bakeries.
“There will not be any rubbish at all, as the city will have two factories converting it into all kinds of ashes.”
It will house workers for mines and oil platforms which should pay the costs of the development, it is claimed.
“This project is designed to work on any surface, even on the Moon if needed,” added Mr Rzhevskiy.
Although it has no fixed timetable for opening, the ice city plans come as all countries with territory touching Arctic waters are gearing up to submit competing demands to the United Nations for underwater mineral exploitation rights. Western countries were stung when, in 2007, Russian polar explorer Artur Chilingarov planted his country’s flag in the Arctic sea bed.
“We must prove the North Pole is an extension of the Russian land mass,” he said at the time.
A Canadian think-tank this year voiced fears of a risk of conflict over the area, saying “an arms race may be beginning”.
The US, Canada, Norway and Russia have all beefed up their naval presence in Arctic waters amid warnings of a new Cold War that really could turn out to be cold, except perhaps at Umka.