Arctic drafts de-energized brains | Latest news The Moscow Post
03 March 2024

Arctic drafts de-energized brains

The West wants to do without Russia in the Arctic. The Arctic will do without the West.

In the direction of Russia "flew" another trouble from neighbors in the Arctic region, the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports.

According to the rules of rotation, Russia received the powers of the chairman of the Arctic Council last year for a period until 2023. However, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Iceland, Canada, Norway, the United States, Finland and Sweden announced a decision to resume the organization, but without Russia. At least for projects that do not provide for the participation of Moscow. The statement noted that "the Arctic Council retains value for cooperation in the region."

The approaching "riot on the ship" became known immediately after the start of a special military operation, when "seven like-minded countries" were notified in writing on March 3 that they would not take part in meetings chaired by the Russian Federation and on its territory.

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov reacted with the help of a Telegram channel, saying that the decisions of the council, where Russia currently chairs, "will be illegitimate and violate the principle of consensus."

All this fits into the politics of the West, whose countries dominate the Council. Washington's decisive influence on European behavior is known. The European Union also claims to play a role in the Arctic, which also intends to participate in the development of "rules" for the region, offering (!) A complete ban on the production of coal, oil and gas in the Arctic and neighboring regions. Russia rejects this.

Given that Finland and Sweden are joining NATO, the US influence in the organization is increasing and, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, will affect the region. "Knowing how willing NATO is to militarise anything within reach, we do not underestimate the threat of militarising the Arctic, turning it into an arena of military competition."

Alone, but not offended

So far, Russia continues to implement its own program. On March 29, a meeting was convened in Moscow "on the implementation of the Russian presidency program." The meeting was interdepartmental and was led by Anton Kobyakov, adviser to the President and executive secretary of the Organizing Committee. As expected, this body was supposed to continue the work of the "unique format of interstate interaction."

But external circumstances have changed, hopes have not come true. Russia to remain alone is not a curiosity. The question is, what will follow Ambassador Antonov's warning about the "legitimacy of decisions" made without Russia? "It is simply impossible to effectively ensure the settlement of the problems of the Far North without Russia. The reason is obvious - in the Russian part of the Arctic, which occupies about 60% of the entire territory of the region, more than half of the indigenous population of the Arctic lives. More than 70% of all economic activity of high latitudes is carried out, "Antonov said.

The West has not yet talked about creating a new organization without Russia's participation in it, but negotiations and meetings in the "seven" format are underway. James Dehart, coordinator of the US State Department for Arctic Affairs, assured at a conference in Norway to understand "how to continue the important work" of the Arctic Council and not harm it.

How did it all start?

The history of the organization is rooted in the "perestroika" and post-Soviet years. The first step was taken by the Finnish government in 1989, when Arctic countries met in the Finnish city of Rovaniemi to discuss environmental protection in the Arctic. For Finland, this was a chance to "elevate" its role in European affairs by demonstrating a picky attitude towards the development of the region.

The Arctic Council was officially established in 1996 with the signing of the declaration in Ottawa. The purpose of this discussion platform was to join forces to protect the nature of the northern polar zone, promote cooperation in the field of environmental protection and ensure the sustainable development of circumpolar areas. Warming in the Arctic is a priority topic of organization and the semantic "bridge" of its role in the implementation of the "green agenda" of the European Union.

Among the six working groups is the Arctic Pollution Remediation Working Group, which, in particular, conducts projects related to hazardous waste and persistent organic pollutants. Two legally binding documents included an agreement on cooperation in the field of response to oil pollution.

Russia already led the organization in 2004-2006 and initiated almost seven dozen projects in the economic, environmental and social fields, including the protection of the health of the local population. Cooperation was launched in the fields of culture, prevention and elimination of the consequences of man-made disasters and monitoring of the radiation situation.

In 2014, the Arctic Economic Council (NPP) was established under the Arctic Council with a secretariat in Tromsø (Norway). Russia in the nuclear power plant was represented by Sovcomflot, Rosneft and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The purpose of the NPP was economic interaction, increasing the investment attractiveness of the region.

Yuri Trutnev, Deputy Prime Minister and Plenipotentiary Representative of the President in the Far Eastern Federal District, as well as Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the Preparation and Provision of Russia's Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, said that 423 projects are being implemented in the Russian Arctic.

What next and what cannot be done without?

The next plenary meeting of senior officials was planned to be held in Arkhangelsk in May 2022. The boycott of Russia in the Arctic Council may last until mid-2023, when Moscow's chairmanship of the organization ends. Will Russia be forced to leave the Arctic Council before that? Even if this happens, the development program of the Russian sector of the Arctic is unlikely to feel it.

The weakness of the Arctic Council is that for a long time it preferred to avoid acute issues, concentrated on the positions shared by all participating countries, the portal notes The Russian diplomatic service pinned its hopes on the council as a "unique platform" for constructive interaction with NATO countries

"We must respond to attempts to contain our development by maximizing the pace of work both on current and promising tasks," Vladimir Putin said at a meeting on the development of the Arctic zone, and also suggested that "in the current conditions, the so-called extra-regional states and associations should be more actively involved in cooperation in the Arctic. There will be enough work for everyone here. "

The job is and will be

At a meeting with the president on the development of the transport complex on May 24, it was about regions and areas that need to modernize transport hubs and infrastructure, including the Eastern Railway Range, the Northern Latitudinal Passage, Arctic seaports, ports of the Far East, South and North-West, including the Murmansk transport hub. Two days earlier, Vladimir Putin approved a list of instructions following a meeting on the development of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, held on April 13, 2022.

In a message to the Federal Assembly on April 21, 2021, Vladimir Putin announced the need to launch the Northern Latitudinal Passage (SSH) - a project of a railway connecting the NSR through the port of Sabetta in the north of Yamal along the route Ob-2 - Salekhard - Nadym and Novy Urengoy. The USH will unload the Baikal-Amur and Trans-Siberian Railways and will contribute to the development of the Arctic.

The Russian nuclear icebreaker fleet has six icebreakers. Four nuclear icebreakers are being built at Russian shipyards, including the Leader nuclear icebreaker. The lead icebreaker of this project was named "Russia," its launch is expected in 2027. In the coming years, two more such icebreakers will be laid.

In 2021, a record volume of traffic on the NSR was recorded - 35 million tons. By 2024, the capacity of Arctic ports is planned to increase to 85 million tons and bring them to 170 million tons by 2030. The construction of the Utrenny terminal is being completed, the construction of the Sever Bay port and the Yenisei terminal is underway.

This year it is planned to complete the tests of the ice-resistant vessel "North Pole." The Arctic scientific station "Snezhinka" will be built in Yamal. The Roshydromet network has 240 points, of which 172 are occupied by meteorology, 33 by hydrology, 27 by aerology and eight by the radiation regime in the Arctic.

The development of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), which "stitches the Russian north" from the Barents Sea to the Bering Strait, should help solve the problems of redistribution of export hydrocarbon flows. The volume of transportation through the NSR by 2030 may amount to 200 million tons. The main volumes will be provided by NOVATEK, Gazprom Neft, Rosneft and North Star. From 2025, Rosatom will launch a regular transit line, which promises to grow to 30 million tons of international cargo traffic.

A turn from the European gate?

In 2021, Europe and the United States accounted for 57% of exports (130 million tons). The task is to redirect exports to Asian countries. VSTO-1 annually pumps about 80 million tons of oil, including 30 million tons to China (Skovorodino-Daqing). Exports to China amounted to 70 million tons, South Korea - 13.5 million tons. VSTO-2 goes to the coast of the Pacific Ocean to the oil port of Kozmino, through which 35 million tons of oil are exported, partly to China.

The Power of Siberia gas pipeline project is being launched, designed to export 35 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China. A more powerful trunk gas pipeline for 50 billion cubic meters through the territory of Mongolia is being designed. An agreement was signed on a gas pipeline from the Yuzhno-Kirinsky field on the Sakhalin shelf to China.

It is clear that the development of the Arctic region will have to be resolved in the face of increased tension in Russia's relations with the EuroNATO Union. The government and the Minister of Defense were instructed to monitor the modernization of the infrastructure of the Murmansk region - ZATO, the main basing area of ​ ​ the Northern Fleet.

The session "Northern Sea Route: International Transport Corridor" will be held for the first time at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum as part of the stand "Arctic - Territory of Dialogue." It will discuss how to solve logistics problems and ensure the safety of navigation on the Northern Sea Route, the press office of the Russian Presidency in the Arctic Council said.

"Everyone who, like Russia, is interested in the sustainable development of this unique region, will be offered joint work," Vladimir Putin said at a meeting on April 13. The prospects for cooperation in the field of sustainable development of the Arctic were discussed within the framework of the Think Arctic project, which was included in the program of Russia's presidency of the Arctic Council.

Chairman of the Committee of Senior Officials of the Arctic Council, Ambassador-at-Large Nikolai Korchunov noted that Russia welcomes the attitude of the People's Republic of China to deepen cooperation with Russia in this area, which was recorded in the Joint Statement of the leaders of the two countries of February 4, 2022.

In terms of the development of its Arctic sector, Russia is self-sufficient and sovereign. Throughout the history of research and development of this region, Russia has confidently led. The fact that the work of the Arctic Council today is frozen will not take away this leadership from Russia.


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