Russia drafts 'Arctic Zone' bill to defend its interest in this region

A Russian bill "On the Arctic Zone" will clearly list entities comprising this zone, says Yury Neyolov, a member of the Federation Council committee on the North affairs and a former governor of the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district, who is a member of a government working group drafting the bill.

"This bill will clearly stipulate what entities comprise the Arctic zone, and these very entities will be entitled to socioeconomic stimulation measures.

It will also specify a system of government strategic planning and socioeconomic development measures for the Arctic zone, as well as measures ensuring Russia's national security in the Arctic," Neyolov said.

The need for adopting this bill became evident at the end of the 1990s, Neyolov said.

"Several versions of this bill were even drawn up, but none of them has still been passed. However, the situation now is such that this bill is extremely essential, considering the rivalry that is gaining momentum for the Arctic and claims to it on the part of the subarctic countries," Neyolov said.

He suggested that different countries will begin a bitter competition for the huge oil, natural gas, and gas condensate deposits in the Arctic in the near future.

In international terms, quite a lot of problems have accumulated regarding unsettled territorial disputes in the Arctic, Neyolov said. In particular, he mentioned the fact that the UN did not support a Russian bid filed in the early 2000s on including the Lomonosov Ridge in the Russian continental shelf.

"The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf declined the bid due to lack of geological evidence. Therefore, we need to step up the work at the government level on drawing up a new bid for the UN regarding the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Rise. And this bid should be based on reliable scientific and geological data. This is the only way for us to reasonably defend our position and claims to these territories," Neyolov said.

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