Don't lose the battle for the Arctic

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Don't lose the battle for the Arctic
12 Min Read

Politician Alexei Zhuravlev talks about why the absence of a strategic approach to the development of the northern territories threatens Russia with shocks.

Politician Alexei Zhuravlev talks about why the absence of a strategic approach to the development of the northern territories threatens Russia with shocks.

The struggle of the largest powers in the world is currently being conducted on several sites. We often talk about Ukraine (and the entire post-Soviet space) and Syria as an arena of clashes of interests between Russia and the United States. But we often overlook another strategically important region - the Arctic.

Meanwhile, the appetites of our overseas "partners" in this geographic zone stretch far enough. An example can be cited from the American Arctic Policy Directive adopted back in 2009.

In particular, it says: "In the Arctic, the United States has broad fundamental interests in the field of national security and is ready to act independently or in alliance with other states to protect these interests."

Moreover, in accordance with this document, the highest national priority there is openly called the freedom of trans-Arctic flights and freedom of navigation in relation to the entire Arctic, including the Northern Sea Route. The same path, the idea of ​​which was put forward almost five centuries ago by the Russian diplomat Dmitry Gerasimov.

By the way, in mid-September 2015, exactly one hundred years have passed since the Taimyr and Vaigach icebreakers under the leadership of Boris Vilkitsky came to the port of Arkhangelsk, in fact proving the possibility of a water passage from Vladivostok to these northern places.

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It is surprising and sad how little attention has been paid to this historical date without any exaggeration. It seems that we do not fully understand the strategic importance of the NSR, which for many years has become a kind of "road of life" for the northern regions.

This is not an exaggeration at all. When not a single icebreaker left Vladivostok for navigation in 1996 on the Northern Sea Route route, almost the entire Subpolar region of Russia was left without food and fuel. And if not for the efforts of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, our country would have faced a catastrophe.

Moreover, we, in fact, were already on the verge of losing our sovereignty over this most important transport artery. The West didn't even need to make much effort. The unfortunate reformers, in a liberal frenzy, practically destroyed the entire icebreaker fleet, and Russia simply physically could not operate the NSR.

And the logic of our "friends" is always the same: "Since Russia is not able to dispose of the wealth that nature has given it, let it give it to more" skillful "hands. And in general it is unfair that it got so much - let it share it." ...

Of course, it is good that we are currently strengthening our military positions in this region. The experience and professionalism of our military should cool those hotheads in the West who still dream of giving the Northern Sea Route a mythical "international status".

But this is not enough. We pay catastrophically little attention to the development of the Arctic. But this is a huge territory - in accordance with the current legislation, the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation includes territories with a total area of ​​over 4 million square meters. km (almost a quarter of the total area of ​​the Russian Federation).

At the same time, only about 2.5 million people live on such a large territory: less than 2% of the country's population. Very telling figures.

The data characterizing the development of the region's transport network are also very eloquent. There are five international airports in the entire Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, and this despite the fact that there are three of them in Moscow alone. The density of highways in Chukotka is 46.2 times less than the average for the Russian Federation, in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug - 33.6 times.

In the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the length of railways is 1390 km, while in this region it is the only transport of year-round operation. Again, for comparison: the Crimean railway has a comparable length of 1,325 km, but the area of ​​Crimea is 27 thousand square meters. km, and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug - over 750 thousand sq. km. That is, the difference is 30 times !.

And with such a development of the transport infrastructure, is it really possible to talk about any kind of development at all?

All this testifies, first of all, to the absence of a strategy for the development of the Arctic. Of course, we have a state program "Social and economic development of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2020" and this is better than nothing. But this is more of a declaration than a concrete development plan.

We have not resolved the main, strategic issue. It is actually quite simple: "Why do we need the Arctic?" There are two answers to it. From which, respectively, follow two different approaches to the development of this region.

The first approach. Simplifying, we can say that it boils down to the message: "The Arctic is just a storeroom in which our natural resources lie." When we need it, we open this storeroom, take what we need - oil or gas - we sell it to the West, we get money for it in the budget and forget about this territory until next time.

With this approach, you can forget about some kind of development. What for? It does not require the involvement of significant human resources, the formation of a special social sphere and the economic development of the territory. That is, it may well be implemented while maintaining the rotational method. It is only necessary to ensure the protection of objects. The notorious "pipe economy" in its purest form.

There is a second approach, of which I am a supporter. The Arctic should become one of the locomotives of our economy and science. And for this you need to build infrastructure, airports, railways, communications, communications. And to create such favorable and comfortable living conditions for people so that the best specialists, our scientific and technical intelligentsia, move there.

Yes, it takes money. Yes, investments will not pay off immediately, and some of them - never. But this is not a reason to refuse to implement them, since without their solution, talks about the development of the Arctic are futile.

This approach is required by the geopolitical situation and the level of the issue. Empty territories are a potential target for settlement by foreigners with all the ensuing consequences.

There are plenty of contenders for our Arctic lands. Was it in vain that the Norwegians launched such active work in the Arkhangelsk region? For example, do you know that a certain Thornwald Stoltenberg is an honorary doctor of the Northern Arctic Federal University, located in Arkhangelsk? Familiar surname? Yes, this is the father of the current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

By a strange coincidence, as REN TV journalists recently found out, the processing of local youth has recently intensified, designed to convince them that an ethnographic group of Russians called Pomors near the White Sea coast is not a Russian ethnos at all, but the descendants of Scandinavians. What is the purpose of this?

The Komi Republic, which has recently thundered all over the country, is calling for "de-Russification." And it is worth, by the way, to figure out how the characters, who until recently stood at the helm of the republic, treated such trends.

An attentive reader probably has a question: what do you propose? We, the Rodina party, came up with the idea of ​​creating the Arktika state corporation.

Why not a ministry? In my opinion, the experience of other territorial ministries (the Ministry for the Development of the Far East, the Ministry of Crimea, the Ministry for the North Caucasus) says that this is not a very good idea.

First of all, because the Arctic is not only and not so much a territory, its significance for the country is much greater, and a purely bureaucratic approach is inapplicable here.

In our opinion, it is necessary to minimize, firstly, the corruption component, and secondly, the bureaucratic red tape that threatens to bury any good undertaking. Therefore, we are talking about the need to create a special structure through which all civil issues related to the development of the Arctic territories will be resolved.

I repeat, we have very little time left. Only by combining the efforts of the state, business and society, we can not only defend Russian sovereignty over the Arctic, but also make these primordially Russian lands truly prosperous.

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