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Efforts of civilian, military agencies to be pooled for exploration of Arctic areas

April 17, 2015, 19:19 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

MOSCOW, April 17. /TASS/. Russia duly boasts huge experience in the sphere of Arctic exploration, but in conditions of a toughening global competition for the resources of the region, civilian agencies will have to pool efforts with the Defense Ministry, experts polled by TASS said on Friday.

The task of this integration has been entrusted to the State Commission for the Development of Arctic Areas with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin at the head. The commission has three main spheres to oversee - coordination of transport activities and ramification of operations on the Northern Sea Route, production of mineral resources on the continental shelf, defense and security maintenance.

Members of the commission had the first meeting in Moscow on Tuesday where Rogozin told them a period of what he called ‘industrialization of the Arctic’ was beginning.

Lots of new technologies, including high-power icebreaker-class ships and nuclear-powered icebreakers will be needed to attain its objectives, he said.

"One can see an ongoing struggle for resources quite plainly in the Arctic, since the area is split into sectors among Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark, and Norway," Oleg Timofeyev, the chief of the Arctic Engineering Center at the Alexei Krylov Shipbuilding Research Institute said.

"In the light of it Russia will have to build up its military grouping in the region and build new icebreaker-class ships that will service it, and if Russia sets up a powerful cluster of antiaircraft and antimissile defence systems, which envisions construction of several major military hubs, they will have routinize the delivery of supplies otherwise than by air there, because there’s no reducing all deliveries to aviation there," Dr. Timofeyev said.

"The sea route is the most profitable and secure for such deliveries," he went on. "That’s why Russian government will have to create a transport system for dual operation by civilian and defense organizations."

"Russian shipyards have always been building icebreakers at the order of the Navy," Dr. Timofeyev said. "All the naval bases in Russia have the freezing water areas and small icebreaking ships are always assigned to their harbor service fleets."

"The problem is the Navy won’t be able to operate and maintain powerful nuclear icebreakers on its own because just one such ship now being built at the Baltic Plant shipyard in St. Petersburg costs around 40 billion rubles and if one supposes each particular organization should finance the construction of these ships for each particular purpose like the Northern Sea Route, exploration of the shelf resources or naval operations, any budget will go bust," the expert said.

That is why it is necessary to pool the efforts of various agencies, like the Federal Seaport Service Rosmorport that reports to the Transport Ministry, the state-run operator of nuclear-powered ships Rosatomflot, and the Defense Ministry, he said.

"Generally speaking, it’s importance to coordinate and unify the operations of transport services, oil companies and the military grouping in the Arctic," Dr. Timofeyev said. "If each and every one acts of their own accord there, this will be too expensive."

"A common technological policy is needed and the Rogozin commission has a duty to press forward with that policy line," he said.

"The Arctic embraces the aerospace sphere, since the overflight paths across the North Pole ensure the minimal flight time for the US ballistic missiles," said Dr. Konstantin Sivkov, the president of the Academy of Geopolitical Sciences told TASS. "If you consider the fact the partitioning of the Arctic will rely by military strength, Russia needs a really powerful grouping in the Arctic."

"Yet the military based in the Arctic can’t run their bases fully on their own and this is the sphere where we definitely need a unified military-civilian code of rules, the clearly coordinated efforts by various departments acting on behalf of the government and the newly born State Commission for Development of the Arctic Areas," Dr. Sivkov said. "That should receive an appropriate scope of powers."

"Private companies shouldn’t be admitted to performing the state contracts related to Arctic exploration, since our experience with construction of the Vostochny space center (in Russia’s Far East - TASS) shows they are interesting only in the extraction of profits," he said.

"The state has a duty to exercise the strictest possible control over all the Arctic projects owing to their particular geo-strategic and economic significance," Dr. Sivkov said.

"Cooperation between civilian and military organization in the process of exploring the Arctic doesn’t pose any problem because Rosmorport, Rosatomflot, the Ministry of Transport, and various subdivisions of the Defence Ministry are all state organizations and the government can and must coordinate their operations - something you can’t do with private corporations," he said.

"Russia has a wealth of experience in coordinating the activity of civilian and military organizations that goes back to the Soviet era," Gen Pavel Zolotaryov, a deputy director of the Institute for US and Canada Studies told TASS.

"Recall the All-Union ‘youth’ construction site, the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM). Ninety percent of it was built by the Soviet railway troops and this only means that many things new are, in fact, the things that have been long forgotten," he said.

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