The Arctic provides Russian ships and submarines with access to a critical naval chokepoint: the GIUK gap that plays an outsized role in NATO’s defense and deterrence strategy.
Cart before the horse? The whole point of the gap and why we think of it as such is to be able to keep them bottled up on the other side of it. What they want access to is the rest of the seven seas, so to say.
Perhaps that is one of the few reasons some coins are finally being thrown to USCG for modern icebreakers?