Staunton, Aug. 8 – Up to now, Moscow has devoted most of its attention to the development of infrastructure along the western portion of the Northern Sea Route, but now the government has announced that over the next decade, it will focus instead on the eastern portion (eastrussia.ru/material/vsye-putyem-severym-morskim/).
The eastern section, between the Taymyr and Kamchatka Kray, has received relatively less attention up to now because there are fewer places along it with significant reserves of natural resources that Moscow has wanted to exploit and a smaller population that the center must be concerned about servicing.
But three developments have changed Moscow’s calculus. First, the infrastructure needed for shipping in the western portion of the Sea Route is largely completed, allowing Moscow to look eastward. Second, there have been serious holdups in shipping because of ice in the east over the last year. And third, this reflects Moscow’s pivot away from the West toward China.
Most of the 1.8 trillion ruble (30 billion US dollar) plan for the period out to 2035 will go toward developing ports along the eastern portion of the route. But some of it will also go to the expansion of icebreaker capacity there and the construction of ships capable of using both the Arctic Sea and the rivers which feed it.
To oversee this shift, the Russian government has decided to create a new agency, the Chief Administration for the Northern Sea Route, that will remain at least in part subordinate to Rosatom but will have independent budgetary authority (iz.ru/1375583/dmitrii-alekseev/ledianoe-preimushchestvo-kak-novyi-plan-pravitelstva-povliiaet-na-razvitie-sevmorputi and vpoanalytics.com/2022/08/16/novyj-plan-razvitiya-sevmorputi-v-prioritete-vostochnyj-sektor/).