The Arctic Council meets today in Kiruna, Sweden, famous for its huge iron ore mine. Kommersant has a sharp article on Russia’s opposition to the move to grant China and the EU the status of permanent observers, and even Nasdaq has reflected upon the event.
This beautiful photo of strategic bombers flying over Moscow for the Victory Day parade might serve as a reminder that one Tu-95MS caught fire right before taking off in late February and, as Kommersant informs, is now scrapped. According to Barents Observer, that plane (tail No. 21, common name ‘Samara’) was a frequent flyer over the Arctic.
I find it rather amusing that the Arctic theme in the official Rossiiskaya Gazeta goes under the title “Arctic: Battle for Resources“. The only battle I know of happened last August, when Greenpeace landed on the Prirazlomnaya platform – and forced Gazprom to postpone the launch of the project for a year, or maybe more. Interestingly, on Gazprom’s website, 2012 is still given as the start date for oil production
This Norwegian frigate (Helge Ingstad) has sailed today into Severomorsk to partake in the Victory Day parade – and then in the joint exercises Pomor-2013.
Russian media barely noticed the meeting of the Russian Geographic Society (on 30 April), where President Putin awarded generous grants, including for a documentary on the Polar expedition of Vladimir Rusanov, lost back in 1903. This picture is from that period – Konstantin Korovin, ‘Sever’ (from the so valuable Wikipedia). Among smaller grants – the Arctic Atlas featuring the risks of resource extraction. Sergei Ivanov became a new Board member.
This concise article in Nezavisimaya Gazeta gives a good impression on the conference focused on the Sevmorput prospects in the Shirshov Institute. A more alarmist analysis on China’s penetration into Russia’s Arctic ‘possessions’ appeared a month ago.
I examined carefully Putin’s extra-long Q-&-A ‘Direct Line’ for any matters of relevance for the Arctic, and there was indeed one question about instituting a Day of Polar Explorer – and Putin’s laconic answer was – ‘Start celebrating’. Not that surprising considering that the Arctic was barely mentioned in his series of articles outlining his vision for the presidency.
I thought that a must-have thing for a blog on Russia and the Arctic is a link to the Strategy for the Arctic Zone Development 2020 approved by President Putin in February 2013. To my chagrin, I am unable to find an official English translation, but the Russian text is here. The document is remarkably hollow – and is approved at least three years too late, so most of the aims and goals remain hidden – just as on this illustration.
The first entry in this newly-born blog is about the capstone seminar on the Arctic security that the IISS organized in Stockholm on 19 April 2013. My task was to comment on the presentations of two foreign ministers: Carl Bildt from Sweden and Erkki Tuomijola from Finland. My prepared opening was “These presentations are not the usual diplo-speak on the challenges being challenging and opportunities – opportune…” And, truth be said, they were exactly that.