Strictly speaking, the Plesetsk cosmodrome is not in the Arctic – it sits on the 63rd parallel, while the Arctic circle goes at 66° 33′ 44″ N. However, it has a prominent place in Russian Arctic policy, so the failure to launch the new Angara space rocket on June 27 is a major setback for this policy. Russian authorities were so sure about the success that Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had a direct televised video conference from Plesetsk to President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, and as Kommersant reports, the last minute fiasco was deeply embarrassing.
The transcript didn’t make it to the presidential website, where the follow-up video conference with Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin is profiled, as the construction of a new off-shore platform on the Sakhalin-1 project was indeed a success. There is no shortage of ambitious declarations about the plans for developing oil and gas in the High North, and Gazprom proudly presents itself as a leader in the Arctic. Such statements are elaborated in quasi-analysis typically referring to incredulous assessments of cost-efficiency of future projects and arguing that “nobody would want to purchase expensive American LNG if Russian gas is available on lower prices.”
The analysis that really deserves attention in this context is the report of Chinese Defence Policy Research Center, which argues that China has a right to a share of Arctic resources and will prevent a minority of countries from dominating the region. Interesting point indeed.