Russia seeks to boost Arctic economy, population

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia is hoping to lure more people to live in the Arctic with promises of payouts and infrastructure development in the environmentally vulnerable territory, according to its 15-year strategy published on Thursday.

The Kremlin document on the Foundations of State Policy in the Arctic to 2035, signed by President Vladimir Putin, set out its policy plans for the energy rich region.

Russia’s main goals are increasing the local population’s quality of life and accelerating economic development, with better infrastructure and technology to help “settle the Arctic”.

Economic measures include boosting private investment in key energy projects on the Arctic shelf, and paying Russians who want to relocate to the north.

Moscow is planning to develop huge new energy projects in its remote Arctic areas, creating tens of thousands of jobs and using the Northern Sea Route to export oil and gas to overseas markets as it becomes increasingly free of ice.

But with vast regions within the Arctic circle, where infrastructure has been tailored to the permafrost, Russia is one of the most vulnerable countries to global warming and has seen serious flooding and ferocious forest fires.

The 15-year plans include the development of scientific and engineering solutions to “prevent infrastructure damage from global climate change” which occurs more rapidly in northern latitudes.

The document also outlined plans for an underwater fibre-optic communication cable along the Northern Sea Route.