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Russia: Arctic strategy, September 2008
Comment by Katarzyna Zysk, senior fellow at the IFS:
The Russian government adopted a new Arctic strategy in September 2008. The document, entitled “The fundamentals of state policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic in the period up to 2020 and beyond” (Osnovy gosudarstvennoi politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii v Arktike na period do 2020 goda i dalneishuiu perspektivu, was published on the Russian Security Council’ website in the end of March 2009.
The strategy clearly emphasizes the region’s importance to Russia’s economy as a major source of revenue, mainly from energy production and profitable maritime transport. A main goal is to transform the Arctic into Russia’s top strategic base for natural resources by 2020, and preserve the country’s role as a leading Arctic power.
The Russian authorities consider the region as crucially important for Russia’s further wealth, social and economic development and competitiveness on global markets. Defining the limits of the country’s continental shelf by 2015 is listed as a top priority. Among other strategic goals the document points at developing the transport and communication infrastructure in the region, particularly connected to the Northern Sea Route as a national, wholly integrated transportation route and a central element in maritime connections between Europe and Asia. The strategy reveals that one of Russia major goal is to establish special Arctic military formations in order to protect the county’s national interests in various military and political situations.
The Russian authorities underscore, however, that the main purpose of such military preparations is to combat terrorism at sea, smuggling and illegal migration, and protect aquatic biological resources. Hence, the FSB (Federal Security Service) will get a central role in protecting national interests in the region. The Russian authorities clearly underscored the document’s cooperative character by emphasizing the need to preserve the Arctic as a zone of peace and cooperation, and underlining the role of regional bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
The document in Russian: Russia: Arctic strategy, September 2008