Russia Looks To Lure Citizens To Energy-Rich But Foreboding Arctic Regions

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – March 6, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-lures-citizens-energy-rich-arctic-regions/30471435.html)

Russia is seeking to persuade more people to live in its energy-rich Arctic regions as part of a 15-year strategy plan signed by President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin plan, titled Foundations Of State Policy In The Arctic To 2035, promises payouts to people relocating to the area and infrastructure development in the environmentally vulnerable territory.

It says the main goals are to boost the local population’s quality of life and speed economic development with improved infrastructure and technology.

The region has long been an economically depressed part of the country, hit with high jobless rates and poverty levels, leading to the departure of many residents over the past 20 years.

The plan calls for the development of scientific and engineering solutions to “prevent infrastructure damage from global climate change” that occurs in northern latitudes.

The Arctic region has gained the attention of nations in and around the region for its strategic military position and energy resources.

Last September, U.S. Defense Department officials met with representatives of eight Nordic and Baltic nations to discuss Arctic security and cooperation the great powers eye the region’s natural resources and water routes.

China released an Arctic policy in 2018 highlighting its interest in the region despite having no boundaries with it. The Arctic represents a shorter route from Asia to Europe, which the Chinese have called a “Polar Silk Road.”

Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax