Russia’s Far East ministry to get powers over Arctic policy

An excavator loads a dump truck with lead-and-zinc-bearing soil at an open-pit mine of the Gorevsky GOK lead and zinc ore mining and processing plant near the Siberian settlement of Novoangarsk, Russia, August 17, 2016. (Ilya Naymushin/Reuters)
The new ministry will coordinate the country’s expanding development of regional infrastructure and industry.

“New ports and new energy capacities are being built, and of course also new sites for comfortable living, as well as a number of more undertakings,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev underlined in his meeting with Vladimir Putin on Friday.

But until now there has been no unified government structure that could coordinate these activities, Medvedev made clear to the president.

That is now changing.

The government will not establish a separate ministry of the Arctic, but will incorporate Arctic issues in the existing Ministry of the Far East.

“This is indeed a very important initiative, after all the Arctic has the most important resource potential in the country”, the Prime Minister underlined.

According to Medvedev, the establishment of a separate ministry of the Arctic would be too costly both in terms of financial and administrative resources. And Arctic issues are in many terms related with Far Eastern development, he argues.

“In essence, these are often inter-related issues; for example the development of Yakutia or Chukotka – this is also the development of the Arctic Zone.”

Reorganized structure

The Ministry of the Far East is today headed by Aleksandr Kozlov. It is expected that the expanded ministry will include a deputy minister on Arctic affairs.

The management of Russian Arctic policies from before includes the national Arctic Commission, a body established in October 2018. The Commission is headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev.

Trutnev is also top responsible for government affairs in the Far East.

“I expect all regional authorities, government agencies and ministries to understand their responsibilities for issues related to Arctic development, Trutnev made clear as he opened the first Commission meeting, on 4th October 2018 (in Russian).

Included in the enhanced Russian management system on the Arctic is also the new role of state nuclear power company Rosatom. A new law adopted this year gives Rosatom key responsibilities over shipping and port development along the Northern Sea Route.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada ill-prepared for Arctic shipping boom, G7 sustainability summit hears, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland chooses Kirkenes in Norway for new Arctic railway terminal, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: LNG tankers queueing up for reloading in Norwegian Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Northern Sea Route: officials worry Putin’s ambitions are unrealistic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden reluctantly greenlights construction of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Radio Sweden

United States: World maritime body approves first Arctic ship routing measures, Radio Canada International

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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