The West wants to go north

The West wants to go north

Sergey Savchuk

The Western press is replete with articles that Russia has gone into an unprecedented and unacceptable gap in the development of the polar region.
The authors of the publications compare the progress of Russia with the current state of the United States and no longer even hint, but directly demand not to allow further strengthening of the Russians in the cold waters of the Arctic.
A number of fait accompli are being conveyed to the wider Western public. For example, that the Russians are in full swing implementing the project of the transarctic submarine fiber-optic communication line Murmansk – Vladivostok. The high-speed highway, called the Polar Express, with a length of 12.5 thousand kilometers, will connect the village of Teriberka in the Murmansk region with the port of Vladivostok in the Far East by 2026 and will not only provide a stable modern connection, but also bring remote regions closer. And this is not a separate project, but part of the state program for the development of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) worth $ 890 million, which is a very significant amount even for very rich countries.
Russia does not hide its goals. The country is faced with the task of significantly increasing the economic development and prospects of the Arctic region, and the openly declared guidelines are causing great concern overseas.
Foreign analysts draw attention to another very unpleasant fact for the collective West. Two and a half million people live in the Russian Arctic regions – and this is half of the total population of the Arctic. That is, every second person living in the Arctic Circle is Russian. The weak population of these lands in Russia itself is often presented as a civilizational and demographic failure. It is foolish to deny negative trends, for example the outflow of the population to the southern regions with a milder climate. It should be remembered that in the same Canada, which has the image of a country with an extremely harsh climate, ninety percent of citizens live in the south, along the border with the United States. If you look at the corresponding map, then it turns out that the northernmost Canadian enclave is the center of the province of Alberta, and above the map there are completely deserted wastelands. As the saying goes, everything is learned by comparison.
Since the social initiatives of the Russian state are a rather slippery topic and can raise unnecessary questions to their own authorities, the Western man is routinely frightened by the Kremlin’s military machine. It is reported that the Northern Fleet includes a unique nuclear submarine K-329 “Belgorod”, that Russian sailors are testing the “Poseidon” nuclear torpedo in the Arctic, that a new military base has been built in Murmansk, that every year new patrol ships are included in the FSB Border Service.
A separate headache is the rapidly developing icebreaker fleet of Russia. More than forty ships are already in service, three are under construction right now, and in the next ten years Moscow plans to build at least ten more icebreakers.
These numbers are all the more outrageous given that only two similar vessels, the Polar Star and the Healy, are in service with the United States. At the same time, the first has long celebrated its 30th anniversary and exists solely on spare parts that are removed from its twin brother Polar Sea, and makes only one trip a year, delivering supplies to the McMurdo station in Antarctica. The second is not an icebreaker at all, but an ice-class vessel, on which in August last year, due to a short circuit in the wiring, there was a strong fire.
The situation with the icebreaker imbalance most clearly demonstrates the fact, unpleasant for many, that not all problems can be solved simply by turning on the dollar printing press. Donald Trump, as part of the Polar Security Cutter program, allocated a mind-boggling $ 1.2 trillion from the budget for the development and construction of new icebreakers. The implication was that already in 2024 new American icebreakers would go to sea trials, but at the moment it is simply impossible to find any news on this topic.
But the biggest concern, carefully veiled and hidden in the forest of other proc-esses, is something else.
Russia is launching a large-scale geological exploration program in polar waters. At the end of August, the ice-class research vessel Bavenit (project P-2790), which is rightfully considered one of the most technically armed in its class, conducted exploratory drilling in previously unexplored regions of the Laptev Sea. “Bavenit”, capable of performing geotechnical studies of soils in wells up to 300 meters deep at water depths over one and a half kilometers, will conduct surveys over vast areas. These are areas in the Kara Sea (southwest of Severnaya Zemlya), in the Laptev Sea (west and north of the Lyakhovsky Islands) and vast territories in the East Siberian and Chukchi Seas, conventionally separated by Wrangel Island.
At the same time, another scientific vessel, Akademik Lazarev, set out on the same route.
And here we come to the main point.
In no case can any global processes be assessed by single events. This narrows the horizon of perception and does not allow us to understand the fullness of the picture and the dynamics of events. And in order to get a glance at a couple of layers deeper than what the media is talking about, you need to remember that literally a week before the start of the recent climate summit in Glasgow, European officials published a ready-made, that is, worked out strongly in advance, a program to completely ban exploration and production activities in the Arctic.
Lithuania’s representative to the European Commission, Virginijus Sinkevicius, presented a kind of “Arctic strategy”, which implies a radical European intervention in all climatic (read: energy) processes in the Arctic, as well as the introduction of a complete moratorium on further exploration and production of hydrocarbons. The strategy implies the rejection of any territorial claims on the oil and gas shelf from the Arctic countries. It’s funny that there is no USA among the states listed, but Russia, Canada and Denmark are mentioned. Truly an incredible accident.
But oil and gas are not the only interests of European environmentalists. At the first stage, the European Commission wants to open its office in Greenland, the bowels of which, for example, are very rich in uranium.
Is it any wonder that after such desperate efforts of European officials, at the very time when “Bavenit” and “Academician Lazarev” are conducting reconnaissance in the cold seas, the absence of the Ru-ssian president in Glasgow has caused such strong irritation in Washington. Under the beautiful slogans of protecting nature, Moscow has prepared a complex trap, in which, if conditions are accepted, it must give up not only its own natural resources, but also from filling the budget and developing the polar regions. In fact, Russia is being offered to leave the Arctic, to curtail social, military and energy programs.
However, the unexpectedly constructed scenario began to be broken by Brussels’ own allies.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has been heavily criticized at the Arctic Strategy.
The politician said that Norway, the second after Russia supplier of natural gas to Europe, in the event of a moratorium, refuses to guarantee the reliability of energy supplies, moreover, it will not help EU countries with a “green transition” to carbon-free energy. Oslo also categorically does not agree to endanger the National Pension Fund, whose total assets are estimated at $ 1.4 trillion and which is replenished precisely from the proceeds from the sale of natural gas and oil products.
Mikhailo Lomonosov was sure that the wealth of Russia would grow in Siberia, but we can confidently state that the main battle for natural resources is still ahead and it will take place in the Arctic. And the more Russia succeeds there, the louder it will be demanded to wind down military bases, return scientific ships to ports and stop the construction of icebreakers.

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