At present, the Arctic zone is considered the least studied, the reason for this may be rather difficult climatic conditions that interfere with the organization of transport activities on the NSR. However, in the face of sanctions pressure and logistical restrictions from states hostile to Russia, the development of the Northern Sea Route becomes the most relevant direction for the development of the domestic cargo transportation system.
During his last speech to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin noted that the Russian Federation plans to further develop the Northern Sea Route, stressing that such activities will have a positive impact on the fate of Siberia and the Russian Federation. ‘Far East. It should also be noted that the words of the Head of State are confirmed by the dynamics of traffic volumes on this axis. So, in 2021, the freight turnover along the Northern Sea Route amounted to 35 million tons, which is almost 18 times more than the same indicator for 2006, when 1.96 million tons freight were transported along the NSR. Moreover, according to Vladimir Putin’s decree of May 7, 2018, the annual volume of traffic along the NSR should reach 80 million tons by 2024.
Despite the positive dynamics of freight turnover over the past 25 years, it should be taken into account that the development of the Northern Sea Route is associated with a large number of organizational and technical difficulties.
Currently, the Northern Sea Route has a fairly serious logistics infrastructure, which includes 70 ports, the largest of which are in Murmansk, Igarka, Arkhangelsk, Tiksi, Dudinka and Pevek. Navigation activities on the NSR during the winter period are associated with exceeding huge ice thicknesses and prolonged stay in sub-zero temperatures. Many experts draw their attention to the fact that at present not all sections of the road have the technical capacity to organize regular navigation, especially the vulnerable section in this regard is the eastern sector of the Northern Sea Route.
Thus, one of the main problems of the NSR is a certain lack of ice-class ships, which are the main driver of this route. Currently, the national icebreaker fleet consists of about 30 diesel icebreakers, 7 nuclear icebreakers and the light carrier Sevmorput. Over the past three years, three icebreakers of the new project 22220 (Arktika, Sibir and Ural) have been put into service. In 2025, the country’s nuclear fleet should replenish another icebreaker of this project – Yakutia. Also, just recently, FSUE Atomflot announced that the fifth and sixth serial nuclear icebreakers of the project will be called Kamchatka and Sakhalin, their laying is scheduled for 2024 and 2025, respectively. In addition, the construction of the first nuclear icebreaker of the 10510 Leader project is underway, its commissioning date is set for the end of 2027.
It must also be understood that fairly large-scale investments are necessary to ensure the regular operation of the Northern Sea Route. Some of them are made from budgetary funds, the rest of the financial investments fall on large enterprises that are the main users of this route (Nornickel, Gazprom, Lukoil, Rosneft, Rosshelf, Rosatom, Novatek “and others). The investment situation is complicated by the fact that, given the harsh climatic conditions and economic and political uncertainty, the payback period for financial investments is increasing sharply, which is a stopping factor for large private investors.
Another issue is the state of port infrastructure, which is involved in the operation of the Northern Sea Route. At the moment it is underdeveloped, especially with regard to international transport. Thus, in 2022, the development plan for the Northern Sea Route until 2035 was approved. Its main provisions are specifically aimed at creating the NSR infrastructure. About 150 events are expected to take place, the total amount of funding for which should reach 1.8 trillion rubles.
In addition, we can talk about the existing problem of an environmental nature. With an increasing anthropogenic load on the territory of the Northern Sea Route, it is necessary to try to preserve the almost intact and extremely fragile ecology of the Arctic region. Do not forget about the respectful attitude to the way of life and the way of life of the northern indigenous peoples living in the polar regions.
In addition, one of the key points in the operation of the Russian Federation of the Northern Sea Route concerns issues of national security. The political confrontation between Russia and Western states, which intensified to the maximum in the context of the Ukrainian crisis, led to the introduction of new sanctions that forced our country to react. On July 31, 2022, a new naval doctrine was issued by decree of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. Increased attention is being given to key national security challenges and threats associated with the oceans. Thus, the document refers to the strategic direction of the United States of America and other states aimed at their dominance in the oceans. Countries hostile to us are trying to limit the access of the Russian Federation to various resources located in the waters of the world ocean, in order to minimize the possibility of Russian access to transport communications. The controversy of some states raises issues related to territorial claims against the Russian Federation, which directly threaten the security of our country.
From the above, we can conclude that in the current economic and political situation and as a result of active actions by the states of the Western world, a number of well-established transport and logistics chains have been violated. Such events are directly related to the economic security of the Russian Federation and force decisions to be made on the search and development of alternative routes, one of which is the Northern Sea Route. The development of the NSR is one of the priority areas for our country in the Arctic region, and therefore all areas closely related to it can expect increased investment and development of transport infrastructure in the near future. .
Author: Victor Anufriev
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