Interview with Vladimir Chukov

Vladimir Chukov, polar explorer and member of the Russian Geographic Society joined Russia Today to discuss the importance of the current Russian mission to the North Pole.

Russia Today: You have taken part in no less than 25 polar expeditions. Can you give us an idea on what sort of challenges this mission will be facing?

Vladimir Chukov: The main challenge this expedition faces is that before it no one has managed to make a submersion exactly at the North Pole. This will definitely be a great scientific achievement, a new start for the further exploration of the Arctic depths. One cannot overestimate the importance of this mission.

RT: Diving 4,300 metres down to the depths of these Arctic waters – is it going to be a dangerous mission?

V.C.: Every expedition in the Arctic is definitely linked to a big risk. This mission is a very complicated one and very risky. To dive down to more than four thousand metres with very thick ice cover is a very risky enterprise. However, I am sure that our Mir-1 and Mir-2 submersibles which are aboard the Rossiya ice-breaker are able to do the job. I also know all the members of the expedition. I am sure they are top professionals and it will be a success.

RT: What sort of training is required just to visit the North Pole let alone dive over four thousand metres below the water? Just the surface operation surely will have its own challenges.

V.C.: It is hard to say what specific training the members of the expedition had because I was not present, and do not know the programme of this training. But diving to these depths definitely requires excellent physical condition of a man.

RT: Isn't it an environmental concern here? Scientists are saying that the continental shelf is rich in oil and gas. So there is another purpose here – not just to set a record and to see what is going on there, but possible exploitation of the resources there. Is that not a concern for the environment?

V.C.: The purpose of the mission is certainly a complex one. Actually, there are several important tasks. Of course, it is very prestigious to do something nobody has managed to do before, but the practical meaning of the expedition is that it is the next step in the continental shelf exploration, and ocean floor exploration, in the research of the Earth's nature. Currently, we know more about the moon than about the ocean floor, let alone the Arctic Ocean. We actually know quite little about the ocean floor.

RT: What are the potential dangers threatening the fragile ecosystem there if we start to exploit the mineral resources?

V.C.: I do not see any threat to the Arctic Ocean's environment as far the submersion is concerned. Artificial bodies have been submerged into the ocean before. But this time it will be a manned submersible. And this is really valuable.