Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Russia has further accelerated its military and commercial development in the Arctic

Open in full screen mode

Russia has around thirty ships adapted to the Arctic. (Archive photo)

Agence France-Presse

Feature being tested

Log inCreate my account

Speech synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate spoken text from 'a written text.

Russia has further accelerated its military development of the Arctic, deeming the region essential to the growth of its trade with Asia, in particular to counterbalance the effects of Western sanctions imposed due to the Arctic. Russian assault on Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the Russian atomic energy giant Rosatom unveiled the latest of its RITM-200 reactors, much lighter, compact and powerful. It will equip its future latest generation nuclear-powered icebreaker Tchoukotka, a type of ship crucial to establishing the Northern Sea Route as a new commercial circuit linking Europe and Asia.

Without such a fleet to overcome the ice obstacles encountered in Arctic waters, it is impossible to imagine a reliable and sustainable hydrocarbon trade.

However, oil and gas are at the heart of Russia's economy, which is now largely deprived of the markets it dominated until February 2022 and the offensive against x27;Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin had already, before this conflict, made the exploitation of Arctic resources a strategic priority and the Northern Seaway, as global warming accelerates the melting of ice and makes these waters better navigable.

But a few months after the start of the assault in Ukraine, the Russian authorities stepped up their efforts, with the government validating an investment plan equivalent to 29.3 billion Canadian dollars until 2035.

According to Moscow, the number of ports of call was increased from 4 to 11, and the route extended to Vladivostok (Far East), allowing, according to Rosatom, the transport of 31, 4 million tonnes of goods between January and October across the Arctic, 10 times more than 10 years ago.

Loading in progressStrikes in schools: Quebec submits new offers to teachers

ELSE ON NEWS: Strikes in schools: Quebec submits new offers for teachers

Ukraine and sanctions have, however, created uncertainty over the financing of several projects, specifies Malte Humpert, founder of the American think tank The Arctic Institute, citing the example of Arctic LNG 2, a major LNG production project which was placed under American sanctions at the beginning of November.

But Russia has no x27;other choice, the European market is no longer accessible […] It must produce oil and gas and export them to generate money. However, the buyers are now in Asia, he explains.

Open in full screen mode

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Many Western countries are concerned about Russia's strategic capabilities in the Arctic. (Archive photo)

However, technological obstacles remain numerous in a country which is used to importing parts to high added value.

As for the Arctic fleet, replacing a number of technologies from unfriendly countries is the main challenge, Alexei Chekounkov, the minister responsible for the Arctic, admitted in May.

In recent months, Russia has had to turn to third countries to obtain parts for its LNG carriers, which are often produced in Asia with Western technologies to which Moscow no longer has access.

At this point, the Russian fleet is limited to 30 operational Arctic-class ships with another 33 under construction. However, Russia eventually needs around a hundred ships, according to Rosatom boss Alexei Likhachev.

Thus, if the authorities Russians aim to transport some 190 million tonnes of cargo in 2030 via the Northern Sea Route, this volume is far from competing with the Suez Canal and its 1.41 billion tonnes delivered in 2022.

Another consequence of the lack of Arctic tankers, Russia sent two conventional tankers to the Arctic in September towards China, without the assistance of an approved icebreaker to open the route for them. p>

A saving of time, certainly, but what are the consequences for the environment?

If ships without ice certification start sailing in these waters, then there could be a great risk of oil spills, Mr. Humpert told AFP.

Militarily, the Arctic zone is also a strategic priority, with Russia sharing the region with its Western enemies: the United States, Canada and northern Europeans.

Open in full screen mode

At the same time, Canada is also increasing its military presence in the north of the country. (File photo)

Thus, even in the midst of an offensive in Ukraine, Russia is constantly strengthening its Arctic capabilities, reopening or modernizing bases and airfields dating from the Soviet era.

Russia has also deployed S-300 and S-400 missiles, extended runways to accommodate planes capable of carrying nuclear bombs and built imposing radar installations, explains Mr. Humpert.

Last August, the Northern Fleet, responsible for the Arctic, conducted military exercises with more than 8,000 soldiers and several submarines.< /p>

Increased competition and militarization in the Arctic region, particularly from Russia and China, are worrying, noted in November ;Admiral Rob Bauer, head of the NATO military committee.

We must remain vigilant and prepare for the unexpected, added -he.

By admin

Related Post