Monday, 22 December 2014 09:48

Russia's geopolitical interests in the Arctic

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For last decade concern to the Arctic region has considerably increased from all world community. It is remarkable that Arctic regions gets today not only to sphere of geopolitical concerns circumpolar the countries (Russia, the USA, Canada, Denmark and Norway), but also other states which have been laied out far from this region (China, Japan, South Korea), and also of some international organisations which one did not participate earlier in the Arctic affairs (the NATO and EU).

For Russia which has begun development of polar region still eight centuries ago, Arctic regions and remains today an integral part of the Russian geopolitical room.

Russia has a wide experience of development of polar regions: still in 1616 - 1620 have been fastened by imperial decrees exclusive rights of Russia in some regions of Arctic regions [1]. Russia has begun development of Alaska. In 1821 «it is unique the Russian citizen» were the rights of conducting economic activities to islands, in ports and embayments on all northwest coast of America, the Aleutian islands and on all beaches of Siberia [2] are granted. The note the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from September, 4th, 1916 pronounces the earths and the islands opened by expedition of B.Vilkitsky in 1913-1914, territory of Russia. This course has been continued and in Soviet period: the Order of Presidium of the Central Electoral Committee of the USSR from April, 15th, 1926 Includes in structure of the USSR «all both opened, and able to be opened further the earths and the islands which are doing not compound <…> recognised government of what USSR territories or the foreign states, laied out in Arctic ocean, to the north from coast of USSR to northern pole» [3].

Discovery in Arctic regions the richest stocks of natural resources (in particular, hydrocarbons and ores), possibility of the organisation and progressing of new global tracks have caused reassessment of geopolitical position of region and have led to it attention of many influential states of the world. In the Arctic zone extraction of 91 % of gas distillate and 80 % (from the all-Russian explored reserves) gas of industrial categories [4] is concentrated. Russia - the key player in Arctic regions. The overall cost of mineral raw in bowels of the Arctic areas of Russia, by estimations, exceeds 30 bln. dollars. And an overall cost of explored reserves - 1,5-2 bln. dollars [5]. The cited data testifies to a low extent разведанности and developments of bowels, however in the future the Russian shelf can become the basic source of oil and gas for Russia, and also for the world market as a whole.

Source: the Russian Council about international affairs

In the literature it is often noticed that we live in «a century of Arctic regions» as this region is key for the future mankind. Today in international tension focal point there are power problems. So L.G.Ivashov notices that deficiency of power resources against dynamical progressing of east economy and building-up of power consumption by the countries of the West, Latin America, the Islamic world, has led to opposition of not so separate countries, but civilisations and regions - in this connection the heavy-lift challenge of Russia is thrown by Arctic regions [6].

And Russia accepts this challenge. Security council sitting «About realisation of a state policy of the Russian Federation in Arctic regions in concerns of national safety» on April, 22nd, 2014 has taken place. During the protrusion on sitting the President V.Putin has noticed that in Arctic regions «almost all aspects of national safety are concentrated: military-political, economical, technological, ecological and resource» [7]. In September, 2008 Grounds of a state policy of the Russian Federation in Arctic regions for the period till 2020 and the further outlook have been confirmed. According to the document the basic national concerns of Russia in Arctic regions are [8]:

  • Use of the Arctic zone as the strategic resource base providing problem solving of social and economic progressing of the country;
  • Conservation of Arctic regions as a world and cooperation zone;
  • Caretaking of unique ecological systems of Arctic regions;
  • Use of Northern marine path as national uniform transport communications of the Russian Federation in Arctic regions.

Today specially sharply there is a problem of reinforcing of the Russian stands in Arctic regions, therefore the greatest possible reinforcing of strategic check over these fields becomes a key line of activity. Allowing малонаселенность territories, the relevant party is military check over coast, the report of information, power supply and supply of a food and housing prosperity [9].

In sphere of economical progressing a priority for Russia in the Arctic zone is expansion of resource base. Now the Arctic zone provides 11 % of the national income of Russia, besides, that here lives about 1,4 % of the population of all country [10]. In the Arctic region is more than half of Russian stocks of rare and rare-earth metals, minerals, ores and other raw having strategic value. In particular, chrome fields on Yamal and on Kola peninsula vital for economy as with disintegration of the USSR Russia has lost sources of chrome from the Kempirsajsky field which one remains in Kazakhstan. On рыбохозяйственный the complex of the Arctic region is necessary to 15 % from total amounts уловов aqueous bioresources and effected fish production in Russia [11].

In the organisation of the Arctic policy of Russia it is necessary to do a dog on supply of complex progressing of region and socially responsible policy. Realisation of an economical component of geopolitical concerns of Russia in Arctic regions A.G.Dugin tenders to hold on the basis of all-level integration of the North which one considerably would raise autonomy and regional independence, but would not loosen strategic connection with the Center. Infrastructure upgrading, embedding of financial assets by a principle of state-private cooperation in concrete projects, attraction of indispensable manpower reserves and the decision of social problems of indigenous population, реиндустриализация Arctic regions on the basis of the advanced and ecologically secure technologies should become reference directions of activity of the state in the Arctic zone. Besides, transformation of raw economy in economy of knowledge is indispensable: Progressing modern petro- and the gas-processing industry, on which one exit - production of deep waste-handling (with the high added cost) means.

From the point of view of military safety, in the conditions of a rigid competition and increasing militarization of Arctic regions, Russia continues to increase military presence at region: a number of polar airdromes and base on Novosibirsk islands is deoxidated, there is an optimisation of groupings of armies and forces of Navy fleet. However a number of specialists mark poor hardness of the Russian stands in region, for example, L.G.Ivashov points out:« The Arctic zone has appeared neutral in the Russian state. There is Northern fleet, subordinated to overland military district, - but it is disarmed, has no neither aircraft, nor means which one could was active to operate in Arctic regions. There was only a frontier service, a coast guard. Co-ordinating pattern in the military plan here too is not present. This neutral territory basically was active joins business »[12]. In the conditions of increase of the geopolitical status of Arctic regions, stress to Russia on such questions, as definition of exterior boundaries of a continental shelf, section of marine territories, development of oil and gas resources, operation of bioresources, access of the foreign states to Northern marine path (СМП) [13] was boosted.

For Russia the North - a jumbo strategic military zone, the major chord of safety: in northern territories a number of the key enterprises VPK, the largest naval bases is laied out. It is not necessary to forget also and about supply of complex safety in Arctic regions, speaking about which one on sitting of Security council V.Putin has noted: «Objects нефтегазодобычи, loading terminals, pipe lines should be reliably advocated from terrorists and diverse potential threats.<…> It is necessary to raise also reliability of protection of our Arctic boundaries, including for the account of beefing-up of marine compounding boundary grouping of FSB of Russia. Simultaneously it is necessary to backup a military infrastructure» [14]

For Russia supply of ecological safety in Arctic regions is important also. Unique ecosystems of Arctic regions demand the careful and responsible relation, therefore economical development of region staticizes a problem of observance of ecological requirements on protection and security of environment both from Russia, and from its foreign partners. Danger of radioactive impurity of Arctic regions remains, negative influencing on polar ecosystems renders also atmospheric currents and the currents bringing on the north pollutants from the Western Europe. Besides, the problem of conservation of the Arctic biosphere sharply rises and pertaining to activity of the foreign companies on the Far North. The state should carry out an estimation of environmental impact and make ecological expertise, work out dodges of financial responsibility of the domestic and foreign companies in case of emergency, and also support development of new competitive and non-polluting technologies.

In the conditions of the globalized Arctic regions Russia should give more attention to a transport and information infrastructure. The operating grouping of companions not in a state to provide connection in subpolar regions of Russia. According to K.Benediktova, the solution of a problem is: «to patch a situation, the separate grouping of communication satellites on высокоэллиптических polar orbits is necessary. The program of deducing of such grouping (« the Express train-rv ») has been elaborated still 5 years ago, <...> however program realisation have transferred for 2016-2025 And till this time in Arctic regions for a reliable communication it will be possible to use only satellite system Iridium which one head station is in the USA» [15]. For satellite monitoring of Arctic regions the data from the Canadian companion today is used. However, in the conditions of geopolitical strife, Russia cannot depend on an infrastructure of one of contenders.

One of perspective directions in development of Arctic regions are Northern marine path and the organisation transit and кроссполярных tracks. Northern marine path (СМП) - national transport groundwater artery. For Russia СМП - the unique transport path providing integration of distant regions of the Far North of the country and their resources in economy. Now the USA and a number of the countries of the NATO aspire to internationalise СМП and to extrude therefrom Russia, after all in case of continuation of thawing of ices, СМП can turn to the relevant transport corridor of world value. Russia while keeps the advantage as ices at the Russian beaches are more thin, than outside of двухсотмильной a zone, but it is necessary to develop infrastructure СМП in following directions:

  • To provide check behind performance of federal target programs on building of icebreaking and auxiliary fleet;
  • To upgrade existing ports and to construct new terminals taking into account possible magnification of a goods traffic;
  • To construct service of looking up and rescue on the sea for safety of courts throughout all track, etc.

In the Arctic policy of Russia the task in view on the organisation and an effective utilisation transit and кроссполярных aerial tracks demands creation and keeping up of the applicable infrastructure. Krosspoljarnye tracks introduce most dynamically developing direction for which one development of Russia it is necessary: to upgrade and replace the weared fleet of small aircrafts, to support production of models of the domestic planes intended for work in the Arctic conditions, to provide dispatching accompaniment of civil transarctic flyings, to organise posts hydro- and meteorological observations and so forth

Source: NASA, information office of the Center of logistics of the Far North, the project of transport policy of Russia till 2030

One of factors of supply of concerns of Russia in Arctic regions is engineering and technology progressing: in case of the further technological lagging of Russia it is necessary to expect negative consequences not only in near-term, but also in a longtime outlook. The risk of remains that development of the Russian polar resources will be effected on the terms of the supplier of technologies. Today in development of the Far North on the foreground there is a factor of economical presence - which one supply, in turn, directly is linked to an engineering and technology level of development. Fundamental science progressing also is one of the relevant problems which one realisation will provide longtime progressing of Arctic regions: scientific studies grant base for definition of legal status of territories of the Far North.

Russia aspires to conservation of the status of Arctic regions as a world and cooperation zone. In the Arctic policy Russia leans against norms of international law, in particular, on the United Nations Convention on a marine law of 1982 which one participants are all циркумполярные the states, except the USA. According to the Convention, all inshore Arctic states have diffused the jurisdiction to the Arctic shelf and an exclusive economical zone at Arctic ocean in width of 200 n miles, with the right of the further expansion of shelf to 350 miles if they demonstrate that the shelf is continuation of their continental gantries. The USA, without being members of the Convention 1982, reserve the right to itself not to confine width of the shelf at Arctic ocean that can be a source of complementary intensity in region.

In the conditions of increasing concern of world powers to Arctic regions, the dangerous tendency of militarization of region is planned. It is obviously traced in beefing-up of military presence and activity of some the countries in Arctic regions, in retrofit of armed forces and an infrastructure on the Far North, and also a heavy use of the armed force for the purpose of security of the economical concerns. A number of the states pursues a policy today of variation of a legal regime of the Arctic rooms: they yet do not call into question jurisdiction циркумполярных the countries, however was active aspire to modified the status quo.

Source: the Russian Council about international affairs

So the Kirunsky declaration on the occasion of the eighth Ministerial session of the Arctic Council from 5/15/2013 of year grants the status of observers to China, South Korea, Italy, India, Japan, Singapore and the European union. It is remarkable also that during last sitting of the Arctic Council which one key line of activity before was the ecological component, the special attention was given to economical development of region, cooperation progressing between the state and business for supply of a sustainable development of Arctic regions. Globalisation of Arctic regions which one will transfer emphasis from an ecological component of development of region on the economical becomes communal result of the enumerated transformations within the limits of the Arctic Council: in the attention centre there will be a mining operations and progressing of transit tracks. With the introducing in a control system of the Arctic region of new players, traditionally Arctic states can lose a part of the influencing.

For supply of national safety and security of the Arctic concerns of Russia in the circumstances it is necessary to keep a format of interplay within the limits of the Arctic Council and to get on idea of creation of an organ which one would co-ordinate activity of the states in the Arctic region and guaranteed international law observance. Besides, it is necessary to work out the longtime policy which one realisation would be routed on security of national concerns of Russia in region. Creation of the uniform administrative centre which one reference direction of activity became complex realisation «Grounds of a state policy of the Russian Federation in Arctic regions for the period till 2020 and the further outlook», and also separation of northern territories, including shelfs, between subjects for involving of economy of subjects in development of Arctic regions would be a logical pitch. Relevant work continuation in sphere of demarcation of boundaries and a scientific substantiation of the Russian claims in Arctic regions is represented.

Pupkova A.A.


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2 International law//Under the editorship of A.N.Vylegzhanina. М: Higher education, Jurajt, 2009. With. 188.

3 Order of Presidium of the Central Electoral Committee of the USSR from 15. 04.1926"about the declaration of territories of USSR of the earths and the islands which have been laied out at Arctic ocean». [The Electronic resource]: <>.

4 V.P.Piljavsky Arctic regions as the centre of geopolitical and economical concerns. [An electronic resource] :<>.

[5] Natural resources of Arctic regions. The inquiry. RIA Novosti news agency. 4/15/2010. [An electronic resource]: <>.

[6] Lukin JU.F.national concerns of Russia in Arctic regions: conference in St.-Petersburg / Arctic regions and the North. 12/8/2013. [An electronic resource]: <>.

[7] [the Electronic resource]: <>.

[8] Grounds of a state policy of the Russian Federation in Arctic regions for the period till 2020 and the further outlook//the Russian newspaper, 3/27/2009.

[9] Dugin A.G.ground of geopolitics. М: the ARKTOGEJA-CENTER, 2000. С.175.

[10] Konyshev V. N, Sergunin A.A.national concerns of Russia in Arctic regions: myths and a reality//National concerns: priorities and safety, 2011. № 29 (122). С.3

[11] Kochemasov J.V., Morgunov B. A, Solomatin V. I. An ekologo-economic estimation of an outlook of progressing of Arctic regions [the Electronic resource]: <>.

[12] Samarin A.Ministerstvo of the Arctic safety//the Independent newspaper, 7/1/2014.

[13] Konyshev V. N, Sergunin A.A.national concerns of Russia in Arctic regions: myths and a reality//National concerns: priorities and safety, 2011. № 29 (122). С.9

[14] [the Electronic resource]:

[15] Benedicts To. A great ice board//News, 12/18/2013.


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