January 14, 2018 By Peter Buxbaum
ARKHANGELSK: The region is a major exporter of timber, pulp, and paper.
Chinese investments in railway and seaports are headed for the Russian Arctic.
Although development of the Arctic is considered to be Russia’s strategic task, the governor of Arkhangelsk said, according to an article in the Barents Observer, that “everyone…who can offer contribution to the development of the territory is in the team.”
That apparently includes China, which is in a position to offer investment capital for logistics projects, as it is doing elsewhere in the world through its Belt and Road initiative.
Governor Igor Orlov’s priorities include developing seaport infrastructure to facilitate for commercial shipping on the Northern Sea Route. China is contributing to those ends with the construction of the Belkomur railway line and the Arkhangelsk deepwater seaport. The Arkhangelsk region is a major exporter of timber, pulp, and paper.
“Implementation of these projects will change greatly the transport infrastructure of the Russian Arctic zone,” said Orlov to the Russian TASS news agency.
The plan is to build a 500-mile railway linking Siberia, via the Urals and the Komi Republic with Arkhangelsk and a new deepwater seaport on the coast of the White Sea, at the end of the railway line.
Last April, a delegation from China headed by Vice Premier Wang Yang took part in the Arctic Forum conference in Arkhangelsk, where Russian President Vladimir Putin also delivered a speech. China’s Poly Group presented investment plans for the railway and port at the conference and committed $5.5 billion to the project. The Chinese shipping company COSCO has also expressed interest.
In July 2017, a non-ice reinforced ship with 25,000 tons of timber sailed from Arkhangelsk via the Northern Sea Route to Shanghai, proof, according to Orlov, of “the availability of the route for commercial transportation.”