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by Ilya Kharlamov
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Nov 08, 2013
The conflict around the Arctic is growing, admits the Russian government. In order to secure the country's economic and geopolitical interests in the region Moscow is planning to upgrade the structure, the military, economic and technical procurement of the armed forces. A major part of the state program of the region's development until 2020 about to be adopted is dedicated to this issue.
The economic and geopolitical significance of the Arctic is growing rapidly. Huge mineral deposits are concentrated here, as well as transportation opportunities and strategic military potential. For the main states bordering on the Arctic (Russia, the USA, Canada, Norway and Denmark) the possession of such wealth guarantees future prosperity.
The leaders of those countries state that the Arctic is bound to become the region of dialogue as well as of economic and scientific cooperation. However, in order to participate in this "dialogue" as an equal each country has to establish its position on this territory not only as a business concern, but also in terms of its military capabilities.
The state program to develop the region prepared by the Russian government assumes the financing of its implementation that amounts to almost 600 billion rubles. The associated documentation states that such investment would have "a complex positive effect on the country's security, the growth of its global status as well as the social and economic development of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation".
Vladimir Evseyev, director of the Center for Social and Political Studies, tells the Voice of Russia about why the country's interest towards this region is growing.
"As the raw materials located on the continental part of Russia are depleted the country is forced to start exploring its shelf. We are talking about the exploration of several large deposits, primarily those of natural gas. Besides that, there has been a certain warming in the arctic and it has become more suitable for navigation.
Taking into account the fact that there are no pirates in that zone and it offers a short delivery time for cargo travelling from Asia to Europe, the interest towards the Northern Sea Route is growing. Russia, on the territory of which the greatest part of this route is located, is interested in its development".
As a result of large scale investment into the Arctic the Russian government is hoping to increase its share of the GDP from the current level of 5% to 14% by 2020. The productivity of labor and the share of innovative technologies are forecast to almost triple. However, unpredictable circumstances can hinder such development, including potential conflicts with other countries bordering on the Arctic.
Of course, it is highly unlikely, but Moscow has no intention to ignore such a possibility. For example, the Ministry of Regional Development is calling for the creation of "the system of operating equipment of the territory in the interests of deploying a military units there".
It also points at the absence of the system of instant response to signs of aggression from other countries and at the opportunity of uncontrolled crossing of the Russian border. There are real causes for worrying, thinks Konstantin Sivkov, first vice president at the Academy of Geopolitical Problems.
"Claims of other countries to control that region will only increase. One can recall that the USA has already announced that the Northern Sea Route is an international route and Russia should not claim the right to use it unilaterally. That is why Moscow will have to protect its interests there not only by political and diplomatic, but also by military and strategic methods. Diplomacy is effective only when it is supported by economic and military power of the state".
As a risk elimination measure the Russian authorities name the fine-tuning of control over the air space and the water surface as well as providing strategic containment. In the event of a military conflict we talk about countering the aggression and ceasing military actions on terms that reflect Russia's interests. One must point out that already today serious efforts are made in this direction.
Active work is done to restore the functioning of airports in the village of Tiksi and on the Kotelny Island. In September the ships of the Northern Fleet delivered a special team there that consisted of 150 people and several dozens vehicles, as well as equipment and housing for the creation of aviation command and the performance of the necessary work. Next year Russia can start to restore its most Northern airport located on the Graham Bell Island.
Those measures are to secure the countries interests in the Arctic, which in the near future can become the symbol of industrial breakthrough as well as a stable economic and infrastructural development of Russia, which Vladimir Putin has stated multiple times.
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