Russia to give special care to the Arctic region

Nonprofit organization “association of arctic projects contractors “Murmanshelf” held the 10th international conference “arctic shelf development: step by step”.

The conference took place in Murmansk on the 13th – 14th of November 2017 supported by the government of the Murmansk region in the framework of the 6th Murmansk international business week.

Main issues of the conference were current condition, problems and prospects of oil and gas development of Russian arctic shelf: implementation of governmental programs of geologic exploration in the arctic; technological support of offshore oil and gas projects; ecological and industrial safety during development of hydrocarbon resources on the continental shelf. International cooperation in the field of oil spill response in the arctic also was one of the most important issues of the conference. Development of the northern regions during exploration of fields on the continental shelf of the Russian arctic seas and the improvement of regulatory and legal framework for development of oil and gas on the continental shelf as well as international cooperation in the arctic of partner countries were also discussed.

Traditionally, the conference is attended by more than 200 oil and gas companies which specialize in exploration, production and refinery of hydrocarbon raw materials, suppliers of oil and gas industry, scientific and research institutes, educational institutions, legislative and executive authorities.

Russia fully restores its presence in the Arctic

Russia has fully restored its presence in the strategic areas of the Arctic Ocean by creating a special force in the Arctic, the chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, said on Tuesday.

“Creation of the Arctic group has allowed for restoring Russia’s presence in strategically important areas of the Arctic Ocean and guaranteeing the safety of economic activity in the region,” Gerasimov said at the Defense Ministry’s board meeting on Tuesday.

He recalled that in 2014 Russia created a united strategic command of the Northern fleet, an air force and air defense army within the Fleet’s structure and a special Arctic mechanized infantry brigade for performing combat missions in rigorous climatic conditions.

“Over the past five years the Northern Fleet obtained twenty three ships, including the strategic submarine The Yuri Dolgoruky and the multirole nuclear-powered submarine The Severodvinsk. The guided missile cruiser The Marshal Ustinov has been upgraded and the nuclear-powered missile guided cruiser The Admiral Nakhimov is being upgraded at the moment”, the general noted.

The coastal defense forces received three battalions of the missile systems Bal and Bastion.

In the Arctic region, Gerasimov recalled, military airdromes are being built and upgraded on Franz Josef Land, the Novosibirsk islands, Cape Schmidt and near the city of Anadyr.

Should Washington cooperate with Moscow in Afghanistan?

   Amid revitalization of terrorists in Central Asia under the flags of the “Islamic state”, Russia and the United States are intensifying their efforts to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan.

   Nowadays, the Trump administration chooses a military way over a diplomatic one. Military advisors to the U.S. president lobby the plan to increase military contingent in the territory of the Islamic Republic. The White House, however, considers sending only about 3,000 to 5,000 solders.

   NATO allies would likely support this decision. U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) commander, General John Nicholson, believes that strengthening the contingent is to change the situation in the region. But there is a great skepticism in an expert community. If the Taliban withstood the massive deployment of foreign forces a few years ago, why would it yield now?

   The former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs (2009-2011) Philip J. Crowley believes that the administration of Donald Trump should move away from the strategy of military intervention as soon as possible. Undoubtedly, such a strategy is theoretically justified, but it does not work in the real state of affairs. The United States and NATO partners are looking for the opportunity to get out of this “swamp” for at least a decade. Trillions of dollars have been already spent, but the desired result is still unreachable. The sad experience of military campaigns led by the US, NATO and Russia should force the current American leadership to develop a new plan as soon as possible.

   The resumption of cooperation with Russia might become a solution. According to Mr. Crowley, Russian interests in Afghanistan are similar to those in the US. “Nobody wants the Afghan government to fail, and the Taliban succeeded,” the analyst explained.

   During an interview with American director Oliver Stone, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “cooperation with the United States on Afghanistan meets the national interests of Russia. This is an area where the countries should unite their efforts”.

   Does this mean that in the midst of a phenomenon called the “Cold War 2.0”, Afghanistan can become a springboard, a starting point for renewing cooperation? Moreover, Washington and Moscow have experience in such cooperation.

   However, the reluctance of the White House to show its weakness can become an obstacle. The fact is that Washington’s refusal of military intervention will mean the failure of US foreign policy in the region. The lives of American soldiers and huge amounts of money will be wasted. At the same time, such actions by the Trump Administration could become an extremely important and serious step on the way to political settlement of the Afghan crisis.

   The experience of recent military conflicts in various parts of the world shows that the use of force only aggravates the situation. The United States have already been involved in so many local wars. Perhaps, Afghanistan is to become the country where the White House can protect its interests not by military but political means.