1 March 2014, 04:42

Russia prioritizes Northern Sea Route as fastest, safest way from Europe to Asia

Russia prioritizes Northern Sea Route as fastest, safest way from Europe to Asia

The Arctic is a treasure trove of mineral wealth hidden beneath thick ice sheets. But as global warming causes the ice to melt, new opportunities emerge. Climate is changing and so are the national interests of the Arctic states. The development of the Northern Sea Route has become one of Russia’s priorities. Other countries appear equally interested in what promises to be the shortest and safest transportation route from Europe to Asia.

The Arctic Ocean will be completely ice-free in 30-40 years, scientists say. The significance of the Northern Sea Route for Russia cannot be exaggerated. It will give Russia considerable advantages in terms of export, transit and domestic freight flows, said Vladimir Pavlenko, Director of the Center of Arctic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“The Northern Sea Route allows for more thorough geological exploration of our seas, islands and archipelagoes, do environmental research and a lot more. But the most important thing is that our country will have a greater part to play in the development of global transportation corridors. It’s a very important circumstance that shapes our country’s positions regarding freight turnover, the diversification of freight shipments from Europe to Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific, and so on,” he said.

“The Northern Sea Route is an extremely important transportation artery for domestic supplies, for delivering commodities, foods and raw materials to our northern regions. At the same time, it’s the fastest and safest corridor between Europe and Asia,” echoed Yelena Kudryashova, Rector of the Northern Arctic Federal University.

Countries controlling the Mexican Gulf and Suez canals fear strong competition from the Northern Sea Route. Construction of modern infrastructure designed to make Arctic waters even more navigation-friendly is in full swing.

“The Murmansk port is being modernized, and the Sabetta port is being built in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. The United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) is also planning to build new maintenance centers. Much hope is being pinned on a modern shipbuilding cluster in Severodvinsk – another USC project,” Kudryashova said.

Judging by the rate of ice melting in the Russian sector of the Arctic, in 20-30 years from now, the Northern Sea Route may be the world’s busiest thoroughfare.



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