He discussed the project in a meeting this week with Sakhalin regional governor Oleg Kozhemyako.

Kozhemyako said that the region’s legislature had written to Putin setting out the importance of building a bridge to connect the island with the mainland.

The island is in the Pacific Ocean to the north of Japan and has a population of about 500,000. The narrowest distance between the island and the mainland is about 10km.

Construction of a bridge between Sakhalin and the mainland had long been under discussion, Putin said. He added that the project is very important for Sakhalin residents and would be a major factor in encouraging people to remain in the region. It would also boost the development of Khabarovsk Territory.

Putin said that he has instructed the government to analyse this matter, particularly its economic aspects.

Russia has also previously discussed the possibility of building a bridge linking Hokkaido in Japan to the south of Sakhalin Island.