MOSCOW, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Arctic was a highly vulnerable region that required special attention from experts, the public and the international community, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.
Speaking at the Third International Arctic Forum in the subpolar city of Salekhard, Putin said Moscow soought close cooperation within the Arctic Council, Global Ecology Foundation and U.N. environmental programs to create modern ecological standards and technologies for the region.
During the two-day forum, participants discussed climate change scenarios in the Arctic and possible consequences for the region's ecosystem.
Putin particularly urged the preservation of Arctic wildlife, including walrus, polar bears, whales and dolphins.
"We are ready to participate in the creation of a single network of monitoring the polar bear population, a main symbol of the Arctic," he said.
He vowed to expand natural reserves in the region. Currently they amount to 6 percent of the entire Russian Arctic, or 322,000 square km.
"Preservation of the environment must become a priority in Arctic development. The balance between economic activity, human presence and preservation of the environment must be secured," Putin said.
The president said the Arctic was currently undergoing an industrial breakthrough with rapid economic and infrastructural development of oil and gas, transportation, and energy sectors.
Only companies that were financially and technologically strong would get access to Arctic resources, Putin warned.
He said the Russian government had allocated 1.420 billion rubles (more than 44 million U.S. dollars) for a "general cleanup" of its Arctic territories in 2011-2013.
In 2008, Russia and the other members of the so-called Arctic Five (the United States, Canada, Norway, Denmark), declared a common policy of "responsible management" of the polar regions.