Security strongmen take on key role in Russian Arctic policy

Former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at the Barents Summit in Kirkenes, Norway, in June 2013. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
According to a decree signed by President Putin on the 25th August, the Security Council is to establish a special commission that will promote Russian national interests in the far northern region.

Among its responsibilities will be “analysis of the international and social-economic situation in the Arctic zone”. That includes also military-political issues, the Security Council informs.

The Commission will also “evaluate progress in development of national strategic priorities in the region and help reveal domestic and external threats to national security.”

Dmitry Medvedev will head the new body

The new body will convene at least once every six month, and include 31 individuals, all of them key representatives of Russian federal and regional authorities. At its helm will be Dmitry Medvedev, the former president and prime minister, now Deputy Head of the Security Council.

Among the Commission members will be deputy speakers of parliament, both the State Duma and the Federation Council, as well as top leaders from a series of federal ministries, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu, news agency TASS reports.

It is not unlikely that the new commission will partly replace the responsibilities of the existing Arctic Commission, a body headed by Yuri Trutnev.

Russia will head the Arctic Council next year

The establishment of the new commission comes less than a year ahead of Russia’s takeover of the rotating chair of the Arctic Council.

Both Dmitry Medvedev and his assistant Nikolay Petrushev might ultimately play key roles in the management of the international Arctic body.

Russia will take over the chairmanship from Iceland in May 2021.

Securitization of Arctic

The Russian Security Council has for several years actively engaged in Arctic issues. Under the auspices of its Secretary Nikolay Patrushev, the Council has organized a number of Arctic meetings with high-ranking international guests.

In October 2019, Patrushev organized his 8th so-called International Meeting of representatives of Arctic Council members and observer states in the Karelian island of Valaam.

During the meeting, Patrushev highlighted a unique history of international Arctic relations and called for “joint efforts in counteracting attempts to create dividing lines and increase tensions.”

Previously, the Russian Security Council has organized similar meetings in Sabetta and on nuclear-powered icebreaker “50 Let Pobedy.”

The Russian Security Council is headed by President Vladimir Putin. Among its 12 permanent members are key representatives of the Russian top power and law enforcement authorities. The Council holds weekly meetings.

Related stories from around the North

Canada: COVID-19 blamed as work on Canadian Arctic military port first promised in 2007 sees new delay, Radio Canada International

China: China, Russia singled out in new U.S. Arctic defense strategy, Eye on the Arctic

Denmark: Pompeo to talk Arctic at upcoming meeting with Danish Foreign Minister, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Nordics should aim for common approach to China’s Arctic involvement says report, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway strengthens its Arctic military in new defense plan as security concerns grow in the region, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian village gets evacuation advise ahead of missile launch, scheduled July 7, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish military ramps up presence in Baltic Sea due to Russian activity, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. appoints special coordinator for the Arctic to advise on national security, economic issues, Alaska Public Media

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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