- Russian President virtually presided over the launch and flag raising ceremony of two nuclear-powered icebreakers.
- He said such icebreakers were of strategic importance as climate change opens up the Arctic giving access to new route and resources.
What’s in today’s article:
- India’s involvement in Arctic
- News Summary
India’s involvement in Arctic
- Initial Phase
- India’s engagement with the Arctic dates back to 1920 with the signing of the Svalbard Treaty in Paris.
- India is one of the very few countries to set up a permanent station in the Arctic for the purposes of scientific research.
- It launched its first scientific expedition to Arctic in the first week of August, 2007.
- Subsequently, India has been sending scientific teams every summer and winter for carrying out studies in the Arctic.
- Indian studies are primarily focused in the fields of glaciology, hydrochemistry, microbiology, and atmospheric sciences.
- Subsequent involvement
- Himadri research station, located in Ny Alesund, Svalbard in Norway, was started in July 2008.
- In 2014, India deployed IndArc, a multisensory observatory in Kongsfjorden.
- In 2016, India’s northernmost atmospheric laboratory was established at Gruvebadet.
- It was established to study clouds, precipitation, long-range pollutants, and other background atmospheric parameters.
- India is an observer in the Arctic Council
- India is Observer to the Arctic Council since 2013. Its membership as an observer was renewed in 2019 for another five years.
- The Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation on common Arctic
- Established by the eight Arctic States — the countries whose territories fall in the Arctic region — through the Ottawa Declaration of 1996.
- Member Nations of the Council - Canada, Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden and United States.
- Arctic Policy launched
- In March 2022, the Indian government unveiled an Arctic policy.
- It envisages India’s engagement in the Arctic region for climate research, environmental monitoring, maritime cooperation and energy security.
- The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (under the Ministry of Earth Sciences) will serve as the nodal agency in implementing the Arctic Policy.
- President Putin presided over the flag-raising ceremony and dock launch for two nuclear-powered icebreakers that will ensure year-round navigation in the Western Arctic.
- The 173.3-metre Yakutia, with a displacement of up to 33,540 tonnes, was launched into water. It can smash through ice of up to three metres. It will join service by end-2024.
- The flag was raised on another vessel Ural. It is expected to become operational in December.
- Two other icebreakers in the same series, the Arktika and the Sibir, are already in service and another, the Chukotka, is scheduled for 2026.
- Super-powerful nuclear icebreaker known as Rossiya, with a displacement of up to 71,380 tonnes, would be completed by 2027. It will be able to break through ice four metres thick.
Significance for Russia
- Strengthen Russia's status as a great Arctic power
- Both icebreakers are part of our large-scale, systematic work to re-equip and replenish the Russian icebreaker fleet.
- This will strengthen Russia's status as a great Arctic power.
- Strategic significance of Arctic
- The Arctic is taking on greater strategic significance due to climate change, as a shrinking ice cap opens up new sea lanes.
- There has been a race among Arctic states and near-arctic states to augment their capabilities in a bid to be ready to capitalize on the melting Arctic.
- Eg., NATO has been conducting regular exercises in the region. China, which calls itself near-Arctic state, has also announced ambitious plan for polar silk route to connect to Europe.
- Unlike Antarctica, the Arctic is not a global common.
- Vast oil and gas resources lie in Russia's Arctic regions, including a liquefied natural gas plant on the Yamal Peninsula.
- As the earth further heats up, which is more profound at the poles, the race for the Arctic is set to accelerate. This makes the Arctic the next geopolitical hotspot.
- For development of the Arctic
- These vessels are needed for the study and development of the Arctic, to ensure safe, sustainable navigation in this region, to increase traffic along the Northern Sea Route.
- The development of this most important transport corridor will allow Russia to more fully unlock its export potential and establish efficient logistics routes, including to Southeast Asia.
- This route, often called as Northern Sea Route, cuts down time to reach Asia by up to two weeks compared to the current route via the Suez Canal.