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The first results of the US presidency of the Arctic Council
Material posted: Publication date: 08-09-2015
The author analyzes the first months of the presidency of the United States of the Arctic Council, as well as sanctions policy the United States and European countries against Russia in the Arctic area. The report stresses that in the context of many unresolved issues, the United States intends to use its presidency in the first place to solve their own internal problems of the Arctic.

With 2013 for 2015 in Arctic council (ACE) Canada presided. Presidency in the ACE changes each two years among the arctic states. Canada (1996-1998) became the first country-chairman the ACE, it was followed by the USA, Finland, Iceland, Russia, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. The second cycle of presidency has begun in 2013. Canada has incurred presidency till 2015.
During this period by it it has been much made for expansion and activization of activity of the organisation.

So, the permanent secretariat of Arctic council has been formed, all questions necessary for maintenance of its activity (personnel, financial, organizational) are agreed; there was a further expansion of a range of its activity on a wide range of practical business, including some questions connected with mining operations; the international agreement second in the history the ACE - the agreement on prevention of floods of oil and struggle against possible consequences is concluded; the arrangement on creation of a new platform for negotiations - Arctic Economic Council is reached; the solution on formation of collective fund for joint financing of nature protection projects is accepted; the structure of the countries-observers the ACE on the basis of preliminary developed criteria for a method of new members in the ACE as permanent observers has been expanded; The second report on human measurement of an arctic policy which is very important for development of a social and economic policy in Arctic regions and protection of interests of indigenous population is prepared. As a whole interaction of the arctic states was advanced during this period structurally.

At the same time in the comment the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia from April, 27th, 2015 in connection with end of presidency of Canada in the ACE is noticed that «attempts of the Canadian presidency to throw in activity the ACE themes extraneous to arctic region to politize discussion and to be held hostage from them decision-making in those or other directions of international cooperation in Arctic regions did not promote business. Especially it was showed during preparation and meeting carrying out in Ikaluite. However such line of Canada has not met support from the arctic states, the organisations of the radical people of the Far North which has unanimously noted inadmissibility of formation of the confrontational summons of activity in this arctic format» (1).

In 2015 presidency in the ACE has passed from Canada to the United States of America (2). On April, 24th, 2015 in the north of Canada in Ikaluit the ministerial meeting the ACE has taken place. The Russian delegation was headed by the Minister of natural resources and ecology of the Russian Federation of S.E.Donskoj. In connection with proceeding cooling of relations between Russia and the West because of the Ukrainian crisis the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Russia S.V.Lavrov on a meeting has not gone. Thus it is necessary to notice that he visited all previous meetings and took active part in their activity.
At session ministers have signed the Ikaluitsky declaration of 2015 which has curled slightly results of presidency of Canada in the ACE and has determined the basic directions of activity the ACE for presidency of the United States of America (2015-2017 (3). The USA have put forward the slogan of the presidency «Unified Arctic regions: the general calls, capabilities and responsibility».

From now on US state secretary John Kerri is the Chairman of Arctic council. Directly in the USA in problems of Arctic regions are engaged: retired admiral Robert Dzh. Papp, ml. - the special representative of the USA concerning Arctic regions (it is appointed in June, 2014, the former chief of the Coast guard of the USA, early such post in the USA was not), Fren Almer - the special adviser of the US state secretary concerning an arctic science and a policy, Ambassador David Bolton - the chairman of Committee of the senior public officials and Julia Gorli - the senior public official representing to the USA in the ACE, etc.

In the total declaration of a meeting in Ikaluit adherence of the arctic states to a preservation of peace, stability and cooperation in Arctic regions is confirmed, new steps on the further development of the international interaction are planned. In these purposes a number of program documents, including the intergovernmental Frame plan for cooperation in sphere of the prevention of pollution of marine regions of Arctic regions by oil as a result of oil and gas activity and navigation is accepted. It contains the list of measures under the prevention of pollution by oil as a result of oil and gas activity in Arctic regions, and also the list of measures under the prevention of pollution of the arctic marine environment oil as a result of marine navigation. The plan envisions information interchange between its participants, including concerning processes, rules, a policy and the practice, connected with the prevention of pollution of the arctic marine environment oil. Also it is envisioned to conduct intention of participants of the Frame plan an effect estimation, including an estimation of risks and effect on environment for oil and gas activity and navigation which can lead to pollution of the arctic marine environment by oil.
At a meeting the Frame document the ACE about actions on emission reduction of black soot and methane, the Strategic plan for the arctic seas for 2015-2025 also has been accepted.

At session in Ikaluite the solution on granting of an observer status to European Union in spite of the fact that in the autumn of 2014 Canada has removed the objections which were the main obstacle for acceptance of the corresponding solution two years ago was not accepted. Certainly, in the conditions of carrying out of EU of a policy of sanctions concerning Russia Moscow has not been set up on opening before it doors for participation in activity of Arctic council.

But also here the solution outwardly elegant - consideration of all demands was accepted, and not just EU demands, for the status of observers has been put aside before the following session of council which will take place in two years in the USA.
The program of presidency of the USA in Arctic council actuates three basic directions of activity:

  1. Improvement of an economic situation and living conditions in arctic communities;
  2. Maintenance of safety and safety at Arctic ocean and rational control of its resources;
  3. Solution of a problem of consequences of climate change.

The USA focused attention to activity of target groups concerning arctic marine cooperation (TFAMC), a telecommunication infrastructure in Arctic regions (TFTIA) and on strengthening of scientific cooperation in arctic region (SCTF). As activity of these groups will be constructed while it is not known, as well to what Americans will give preferences.

The analysis of their presidency shows that the United States of America have realised and publicly recognised that in the activity the country gave attention to Arctic regions insufficiently and is strong in this plan has lagged behind Russia, Norway, Canada and even some countries-observers the ACE. That B.Obama as the first working president of the USA has visited behind Polar circle, has met inhabitants of this territory, is bright to volume acknowledgement.

The special place in the American discussions occupies a question on development of domestic icebreaking fleet. At the moment at the USA from three ice breakers, capable to act in arctic latitudes, in operation is two. Besides, according to the ecologists, existing ice breakers cannot help fast and effectively with liquidation of possible accidents at oil extraction at Arctic ocean. The US president has made a decision to begin building of one more heavy ice breaker by total cost to 1 billion dollars and to put it into operation for two years earlier in 2010. «It is important, that we were off-the shelf - whether there is a speech about the reasons connected with a homeland security, or the commercial reasons, - to that at us was much more capabilities, than is now», - the US president (4) has underlined on September, 3rd, 2015.

In too time in Russia 6 nuclear ice breakers, from them four in operation - Yamal, 50 years of the Victory, Tajmyr, Vaigach and two are in a reserve, pass partial planned repair. On the Russian shipyards now nuclear ice breakers Arctic regions, Siberia and Ural Mountains actively are under construction. According to general director FGUP of "Atomflot" V.V.Rukshi building of one our ice breaker manages on the average 40 billion rbl.

Americans also notice that Alaska needs deep-water port in the west of staff, renovation of the airport of Barrow at northern coast, a corresponding infrastructure for reaction to oil floods in sea of Chukotsk and Beaufort sea. A number of experts pay attention to necessity of updating of cards of these regions for development of new routes of sea-crafts, and also renewal of reconnaissance works on an arctic shelf.

In the USA politicians indicate many years importance of strengthening of interest of citizens in the country to polar business, wider informing of ordinary Americans on «the arctic status» Americas. Speech first of all goes about signing of the Convention of the United Nations on a marine law (1982). They underline that the non-participation in it harms to image of the country, creates nestykovku positions of the USA and the countries-partners on the ACE and a potential for change of a position of the state on problems of Arctic regions. It is necessary to notice that this convention have signed more than 140 countries of the world. Besides, the American arctic coast - small on extent; it is generated in the core by northern State of Alaska and much less, than at one more claimant for possession the rights to riches of Arctic regions - Canada. Therefore positions of the USA in dispute for Alaska with other northern countries not such strong (5).

However, as shows the analysis, conduct a question on the Convention recognition on a marine law through the Senate such American president who will arrange strong majority of votes in the Congress can only.

In conditions nereshennosti many questions, the USA intend to use the presidency first of all for the solution of own internal arctic problems.

Among them consensus search between the State of Alaska and a federal government. Arctic regions last years was a zone of interests of the State of Alaska. However this staff taking only one place in the House of Representatives of the Congress of the USA, makes weak impact on a policy of the federal authorities. Besides more than 80 % of the earths of Alaska are in federal control that leads to conflicts in relations between staff and the country government (for example, the conflict because of a capability of drilling of oil wells in National arctic reserve «Arctic National Wildlife Refuge»). In 2015 the US president B.Obama recommended to expand National arctic reserve on 12 million acres. Thus, to number of territories of the natural reserve recognised as territories of the wild nature, not subject to working out of minerals, sites potentially rich with oil along coast USA at Arctic ocean have been attributed. This proposal has called a disturbance at senators from Alaska as, in their opinion, it undermines prospects of economic development of staff. B.Obama's proposal concerning expansion of National arctic reserve has aggravated a gap in representations of inhabitants of Alaska and a federal government about policy priorities in region. The commission from the State of Alaska on the arctic policy has expressed concern because the government of the USA does not give sufficient attention to opinion of representatives of staff at definition of priorities of presidency in the ACE. In particular, the Commission has considered that in the program of presidency not enough attention is given questions of working out of minerals and creations of new workplaces. The commission also has underlined that does not support reference of additional sites with potential mineral resources in category of territories of "the wild nature» as considers that inhabitants of Alaska should have access to the given territories. Thus, the Commission would prefer, and the majority of inhabitants of Alaska, on belief of its members, would agree with it that presidency in the ACE has been directed in a greater degree on advancement of questions of economic development, rather than climate change and protection of natural environment questions.

In our opinion, the USA will be engaged more actively economic to problems of Arctic regions when at its coast the volume of traffic will increase and the oil extraction cost price on a shelf or when they will feel relation to imported oil that can threaten competitiveness and vlijatelnost the countries at global level will gradually decrease.

As show the first months of presidency of the USA, in the activity they give a priority to climate questions. It was declared on September, 1st, 2015 by the president of the country B.Obama, addressing to the international conference on interaction in Arctic regions in Anchorage (State of Alaska).

As he said, the problems of a climate arising in Arctic regions, it is impossible to solve alone, it is possible to manage them only together. It has reminded of necessity of signing at conference in Paris in December t.g. Agreements on reduction of harmful lets in atmosphere where each country should present the plan of action on an exit from ecological crisis take measures for reduction of negative influence of the person in Arctic regions.

In the solution of these and other questions the United States despite cooling of relations hope for constructive cooperation with Russia, including in frameworks the ACE. The special representative of the USA concerning Arctic regions admiral Papp speaks about it constantly, asks Finland to be the intermediary in adjustment of closer relations with Russia (6).

The United States understand what to carry out all three declared problems and hold meetings at high level they can, only leaning against efforts of all participants the ACE, especially Russia. For example, without close interaction with Russia it will be difficult to supply effective realisation of agreements on search and rescuing and readiness for liquidation of consequences of floods of oil at Arctic ocean. Without participation of Russia carrying out of large-scale doctrines will be, at least, defective. Moreover, for advancement of such complicated questions as the protection of natural environment and climate change, Arctic regions should remain stable and peace region. Practice of activity the ACE shows that the consensus of which will be difficult to achieve in mistrust and intensity atmosphere is necessary for the problem solution on introduction of new long-term priorities.

In these conditions, in our opinion, before taking the first step to the United States of America of Russia it is necessary to consider and rigidly to estimate sanktsionnye actions of the American side concerning our country.

In the end of July, 2014 in connection with a situation in Ukraine the USA have entered sanctions at once against three leading Russian oil and gas companies - "Rosneft", "Transneft" and «oil Gazprom». These are the companies with the state participation and with a turn more than 1 trillion roubles half from which makes the receipt or oil transportations. European Union has joined the American sanctions. On September, 12th, 2014 the USA have entered new sanctions against Russia. Under them five Russian energy companies - "Gazprom", «Gazprom oil», "Lukoil", "Surgutneftegaz" and again "Rosneft" have got, in particular. For needs of these companies it is forbidden to deliver the goods, services and the technologies necessary for oil extraction on deep-water sites, an arctic shelf or in slate layers. Responsible for export control of Bureau on business of the industry and safety of Department of Trade and Commerce earlier still on August, 6th, 2014 Has forbidden sale to the American companies to Russia the specialised equipment for carrying out of prospecting activities and the organisation of extraction of hydrocarbons in «deep-water projects more than 500 foots on a shelf in Arctic regions and in slate layers». The european sanctions, in turn, have demanded to stop «granting of the services necessary at deep-water reconnaissance and oil extraction, activities in Arctic regions and on deposits of slate oil, including, services in drilling and test of chinks, and also in their geophysical research». In the equipment list which sale will demand the preliminary coordination, enters to 30 kinds of production for the oil and gas industry.

In 2015 of the sanction have been prolonged and expanded, have mentioned 90 % of the Russian oil companies and all gas sector. Their addressing demonstrates a rivalry reality in this region of the world on development of its resources. Sanctions show that the West extremely is not interested in advancement of Russia on this way, and it will conduct this policy even if the western companies will incur losses and to leave expedient projects in Russia.

Sanctions of the USA and the european countries, limit temporary terms of realisation of strategic projects of reconnaissance and extraction of hydrocarbons on an arctic shelf of Russia, create threats and scratch indexes for the Russian companies, but also open capabilities for importozameshchenija. The member of presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences academician Nikolay Laverov underlines that «… sanctions on delivery of the equipment and technologies for the deep-water drilling, entered by the western countries, are not critical for development of the Russian shelf of Arctic regions». As he said, deep-water deposits, for example in Gulf of Mexico, are on depth from two kilometres.« We while burim on depths of 100 metres and it is less, - the scientist has explained. - all Kara sea, its shelf zone is on the depths which are not exceeding 150-200 metres. Therefore sanctions are absolutely not critical for us, we need to master small depths at first. When we will reach large depths at us and engineering will be by then the, that is there will be a consecutive development of technology »(7).
Today the geopolitical conditions develops in such a manner that to calculate on cancellation of sanctions in the foreseeable future it is not necessary. Moreover, the Russian authorities should be off-the shelf to expansion of sanctions, which can how to aggravate a state of affairs in the Russian oil and gas branch, and to mention new branches of the Russian economy. It is the extremely important to seize this moment for creation of own competitive technologies to reduce relation to other countries in the future, including at development of Arctic regions.

Despite existing differences in the ACE it is important to achieve, that Arctic regions remained world and stability region, a zone, free from conflicts.


  1. The comment the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia in connection with end of presidency of Canada in Arctic council. URL: <> (reference date: 6/1/2015)
  2. See: ZHuravel Century of the Item Arctic council: transition of presidency from Canada to SSHA/V.P.Zhuravel, N.M.Antjushina//the Observer - Observer. - 2015. - № 3. - With. 47-55. In the given article authors had been made attempt to predict the program of presidency of the USA in Arctic council, proceeding from an estimation of the conceptual bases of the American arctic policy, and also the analysis of performances of public officials of US State department, the National commission on arctic researches, scientists, representatives community business in 2014, the beginning of 2015.
  3. The information on presidency of the USA in the ACE is placed on specially created site: URL: <># (reference date: 9/2/2015)
  4. The USA will construct new ice breakers for strengthening of positions in Arctic regions. URL: <> (reference date: 9/4/2015)
  5. Minin E.M.current state and prospects for the development of arctic region of Russia/E.M.Minin//the Bulletin of the Moscow state linguistic university. Vyp. 23 (709). 2014. - С.103.
  6. The USA want to see Finland in Arctic regions the moderator between Americans and Russia. URL: <> (reference date: 9/2/2015)
  7. The academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences: West sanctions are not critical for development of the Russian shelf of Arctic regions.//ITAR-TASS. URL: <> (reference date: 11/1/2014)

Zhuravel Valery Petrovich

The leading research assistant of a Center of Northern Europe of Department stranovyh researches of Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the candidate of pedagogical sciences, the senior lecturer

Tags: USA , Arctic

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