Russia plans to spend $63 billion by 2020 on its Arctic development program, according to a top government official.
The draft version of the program could be submitted to the Cabinet by November 1, RIA Novosti cited Regional Development Minister Igor Slyunyayev as saying on Friday. The comment was made in Moscow at the general assembly of the Northern Forum, which supports sustainable development in areas economically dependent on natural resources.
Major Russian companies are expected to finance more than half the program’s cost, while one-third of funding will likely come out of the federal budget.
Below the ice and cold waters of the Arctic Ocean are hidden vast natural reserves, including approximately 20 percent of oil reserves worldwide and around 30 percent of the planet’s natural gas. There are also believed to be deposits of platinum, gold and tin – just for starters.
The untapped natural resources have seen conflicting claims from Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the US in recent years, as exact borders between the sovereign zones which surround the Arctic are far from defined.
Arctic climate change is progressing twice as fast as in the rest of the world. As the Arctic ice cap decreases year by year, the vast natural resources and sea routes become more accessible.
The situation has led to the rise of national Arctic development and has prompted increased military presence in the area - especially on behalf of Canada and Russia.
Most recently, it has been discovered that the Canadian military has been secretly test-driving a $620,000 stealth snowmobile designed for clandestine operations in the Arctic, The Canadian Press reported.