Russia rushing to prepare Svalbard strategy

Barentsburg is the only Russian settlement on Svalbard
Barentsburg is today the only Russian settlement on Svalbard.

Within June 10 Russia will have a strategy for how to increase the country’s presence on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.


Establishment of a filial of the Polar Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (PINRO) on Svalbard is suggested as one of the main measures.

At a meeting in the Governmental commission for securing of Russian presence on Svalbard on May 16 First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said that the commission will present a proposition for a strategy within June 10 2011, PRIME-TASS reports.

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There are some 400 Russians living on Svalbard, which has a total population of approximately 2700. Most of the Russians are employed in the state company Arktikugol’s coal mines. The members of the commission stressed the strategic importance of Arktikugol’s activity on the archipelago and underlined the need of securing Russian organizations the right level of state funding.

- We have to expand the field of activities of Russian organization on Svalbard, Zubkov said. – We have to focus on recreation, science and expeditions he said and added that to achieve this goal Russia has to develop a better system of joint state-private partnerships.

The well-known Polar explorer and the President’s aide on Arctic and Antarctic affairs Artur Chilingarov was instructed to organize discussions and prepare recommendations on how Russia can enhance its field of activities on Svalbard.

Establishment of a filial of PINRO might become one of the main elements in the new Russian strategy. The Russian Fishery Agency was instructed to prepare a project description for the filial.

In February the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring informed about plans to build a research center on Svalbard by 2013, as BarentsObserver reported. The plan is to modernize already existing buildingsto house a new center that will be developing projects of geophysical, hydrologic and geologic kind and will also contain a station for reception of satellite data.