Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- The Russian Security Council has been given an important new role in the management of national interests in the Arctic. The move comes as the polar ice melts in Summer and the US and its allies are increasingly visiting the Barents Sea and sending air patrols along the Russian coast.
According to a new study by the US based National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) the Arctic could be completely ice-free in summer by 2035. The new study comes amid reports that the Arctic sea ice extent reached a record low in July, shrinking to levels not seen since satellite observation of the region’s ice cover began in the late 1970s.
By a decree signed by President Putin on 25th August, the Security Council is to establish a special commission that will promote Russian national interests in the far northern region.
The heavy weight Commission is to be headed up by former President and Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev, currently deputy head of the Security Council. It will also include Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev. Among the Commission members will be deputy speakers of parliament of 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, according to news agency TASS.
The Security Council has said that among its responsibilities will be “analysis of the international and social-economic situation in the Arctic zone”, including military-political issues.
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.”
Russia has also begun the exploration of an undersea fiber optic cable to run from Finland to China all around the Russian coast line with links inland. This is the first cable laying operation that has been attempted in such hostile waters. The cable will be an alternative to the lines connecting Europe and China overland.
The melting of the Arctic ice has brought Russia great economic benefits but it has also raised defense concerns in areas previously thought safe from foreign attack.