Russian-led Arctic Forum to discuss development in the Arctic

Russia will host the three-day “Arctic and Antarctic Days in Moscow” international forum today, focusing on Arctic development. Various government,

arctic forum

Photo: Sergei Karpukhin/AFP/Getty Images

Russia will host the three-day “Arctic and Antarctic Days in Moscow” international forum today, focusing on Arctic development.

Various government, business, academic and scientific leaders from the Arctic states will attend today’s meeting, presenting Russia with an opportunity to set the stage for its 2021-2023 chairmanship of the Arctic Council—an international forum for Arctic cooperation. In line with the forum’s theme, Russia is expected to present its development plan for its Arctic territory.

A key feature of Russia’s plan is continuing its construction of icebreaker ships, which are used for conducting scientific research, responding to oil spills and clearing trade routes in icy waters, among other purposes. The US, which currently maintains only two icebreakers in Arctic waters, disapproves of the move. Russia, with its 24,000 kilometre-long Arctic coastline and 50 icebreakers, enjoys a significant advantage in the Arctic, especially as melting ice yields new economic opportunities such as shipping lanes and opportunities for energy exploration.

In the long-term, the icebreaker gap will likely remain, allowing for Russia’s continued dominance in the Arctic. The US, which only recently adopted plans to increase its icebreaker capacity, will expand its fleets to three by 2029, lagging far behind Russia.

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