Russia adds Arctic affairs to Ministry of the Far East

An expanded ministry will have oversight over both regions.

The Russian port of Provideniya, in Chukotka, near Alaska, lies in both Russia’s Arctic and Far East. An enlarged Ministry of the Far East and Arctic will have administrative oversight of both regions. (Ansgar Walk / CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Russia will incorporate Arctic affairs into the Ministry of the Far East, in a move to coordinate the country’s expanding development of regional infrastructure and industry.

“New ports and new energy capacities are being built, and of course also new sites for comfortable living, as well as a number of more undertakings,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in his meeting with Vladimir Putin on Friday.

But until now there has been no unified government structure that could coordinate these activities, Medvedev made clear to the president.

That is now changing.

Rather than establish a separate ministry of the Arctic, the government will incorporate Arctic issues in the existing Ministry of the Far East.

“This is indeed a very important initiative, after all the Arctic has the most important resource potential in the country,” the Medvedev said.

According to Medvedev, the establishment of a separate ministry of the Arctic would be too costly both in terms financial and administrative resources. And Arctic issues are in many terms related with Far Eastern developments, he argues:

“In essence, these are often interrelated issues; for example the development of Yakutia or Chukotka — this is also the development of the Arctic Zone.”

The Ministry of the Far East is today headed by Aleksandr Kozlov. It is expected that the expanded ministry will include a deputy minister on Arctic affairs.

The management of Russian Arctic policies already includes the national Arctic Commission, a body established in October 2018. The commission is headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev, who is also top responsible for government affairs in the Far East.

“I expect all regional authorities, government agencies and ministries to understand their responsibilities for issues related to Arctic development,” Trutnev said as he opened the first Commission meeting last fall.

Included in the enhanced Russian management system on the Arctic is also the new role of state nuclear power company Rosatom. A new law adopted this year gives Rosatom key responsibilities over shipping and port development along the Northern Sea Route.