Russia is determined to make decisive and successive decisions to anchor its rights for the oil and gas-rich water area of the Arctic Ocean. The secretary of the Russian Security Council, the former director of the Federal Security Bureau, Nikolai Patrushev, said yesterday that President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the government to develop a detailed plan of Russia’s state policy in the Arctic region before December 1, 2008.
“We must ensure Russia’s national interests in the Arctic region for a long-term perspective,” Medvedev said at the meeting of the council. “Our first and fundamental goal is to turn the Arctic into Russia’s resource base of the 21st century.
“We must defend our interests, although we realize that Arctic states – Canada , Norway, Denmark and the USA – will also be defending their interests,” Mr. Patrushev said.
“First and foremost, Russia must designate the borderline in the Arctic south. We name the number of 18 percent of our territory and say that 20,000 kilometers is the state border in this region,” the Secretary of the Security Council said.
“There are many problems here. It is not about coming to the Arctic to find natural resources there only,” the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yuri Osipov said. “All these resources will be very hard to extract. The traditions of Russia ’s presence in the Arctic zone were formed long ago, so the future development of the territory must have the scientific platform involved,” he added.
Russian polar explorers give the government credit for its interest in the problems of the northern region. However, many of them have serious questions to ask.
“Judging upon the experience of our expeditions, I know that the protection of the Russian state borders leaves much to be desired,” the chief of the Marine Arctic Complex Expedition, Pyotr Boyarsky told The Vremya Novostei newspaper. The scientist and his colleagues believe that Russia should create a ring of specially protected territories in the Arctic, which will help Russia defend its rights on the Arctic .
“The international community treats the status of such territories with great respect. Their appearance in the Russian Arctic sector will be a much more important argument than political or economic claims, Mr. Boyarsky said.
German daily Die Zeit wrote that the struggle for the Arctic may become the zone, where world’s leading superpowers will collide.
Five Arctic states – Canada, the United States, Denmark, Norway and Russia - have been arguing about the waters and lands of the region for quite a while. The most important questions are as follows: who owns what and where, where exactly the natural resources are located, and who owns the waterways that can be used to access the resources.
The Barents Sea, which Russia claims to be its territory ( Norway does not think so), may have over 580 billions barrels of oil. For comparison, the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia are estimated at 260 billion barrels.
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