Media: Russia plans to cut financing for the Arctic development program by 75 percent

The Russian Ministry of Economic Development proposed that the expenditure on the state Arctic development program be reduced from 209.7 billion rubles ($3.6 billion) to 50.9 billion, which will mean the exclusion of a number of infrastructural projects from it.
This was reported by the RBC, citing a participant in a meeting on the socioeconomic development of the Arctic zone held by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on April 14.

The department is proposing to downsize the program between 2017 and 2025 by 75%. The ministry has not made an official comment on the situation. RBC correspondents in the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Economic Development said that the downsizing of the state program is still only provisional.

Two RBC’s interlocutors pointed out that the construction of the atomic icebreaker Leader, costing 80 billion rubles ($1.42 USD), has been excluded from the project. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the construction of the Leader could be financed by other federal targeted programs.

Another source noted other projects which had been excluded: the Interior Ministry projects relating to Arctic safety, the project to construct a means of lifting sunken nuclear objects, and several environmental protection and scientific projects from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, including the creation of a gene bank of samples of Arctic birch. Some of the projects are already in other state programs, while others will be financed using extra-budgetary funds.

The Arctic development program has been calculated for the period up to 2020. Departments and companies interested in implementing the program will defend it in the session with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. The meeting is planned for May 23, said an RBC source in the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The information was confirmed by a source in the Ministry of Economic Development.

According to three different RBC sources in major departments, the program budget will be agreed on by June 1, 2017. According to the sources, a government report on the implementation of the Arctic program is planned for this date.

In February, Kommersant reported that the Ministry of Economic Development had introduced a draft new version of the state Arctic zone development program up to 2025. Notably, it mentions “support” zones in the Arctic regions which the federal center will give financial aid for the development of infrastructure. According to the news outlet, the department is requesting 210 billion rubles ($3.73 USD) from the budget in order to finance the program.

On May 9, Russia showed Arctic anti-aircraft defense systems at a parade in Moscow, giving the impression that it is increasing its military power in the hydrocarbon-rich Arctic region.

  Russia, Arctic, financing