Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Cartoon Of The Week
Quotes Of The Week
Russian Deputy PM Borisov: We Will Not Give Up The Arctic; Major-General Lipova: Russia Is The Full Owner Of The Arctic Region
Major-General Sergey Lipova, who heads the presidium of the "Officers of Russia" organization, said: "In addition to economic interests that are huge, there is also the issue of national security, because the Arctic is the shortest direction for a strike on Russia from the United States, there are routes for US Air Force strategic bombers via the Arctic. That is why we finally began to restore our military presence there. And the resources that we currently dispose of there - the Arctic search stations, ports and airfields, air defense stations and, of course, the nuclear icebreaking fleet - make us full-fledged owners of the Arctic region."
(Eadaily.com, February 22, 2019)
Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov: "This territory [the Arctic] is [in] Russia's sphere of interests. We will not will not abandon it and will not hand it over."
(Tass.ru, March 3, 2019)
In The News:
- Russia In The Arctic
- The Venezuelan Crisis
- March 18 - The Anniversary Of The Crimea Unification And Relations With Ukraine In The Run Up To The Elections
- Italy-Russia Relations
Russia In The Arctic
International Arctic Forum
Recent achievements in shipbuilding will be on agenda of the Arctic: Territory of Dialogue international forum, scheduled in St. Petersburg on April 9-10, the event's organizer, Roscongress, said in a press release. The International Arctic Forum - Arctic: Territory of Dialogue - is a key platform for discussing the Arctic region's problems and development at the international level. The event was organized for the first time in 2010. The 5th 'Arctic: Territory of Dialogue' International Arctic Forum will take place in St. Petersburg on April 9-10, 2019.
(Tass.com, March 13, 2019)
Russia's Security In The Arctic Is A Priority Task For The Northern Fleet
Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, commander of the Northern Fleet, said: "Russia's security in the Arctic is a priority task for the Northern Fleet… And special attention is accorded to the Arctic military exercises. This applies to naval aviation and submarine forces, both of strategic and general purpose. Seven military exercises along the Northern Sea Route have already been completed. A unique landing of an amphibious assault troops on the coast of the mainland and islands of Franz Josef Land archipelago in the West and Bering Strait in the East took place. In order to successfully perform combat missions in the Arctic, the Northern Fleet receives modern equipment, including some that were not previously used by the Armed Forces and first and foremost the icebreaker Ilya Muromets."
(Rg.ru, March 14, 2019)
Vasily Dandykin, a Russian military expert, and reserve captain of the 1st rank, said:
"Essentially, the Northern Fleet is now detached into a seperate independent strategic division, earlier it was subordinate to the Western Military District. And the Northern Fleet is in full control of its area of responsibility - from the Kola Peninsula on the Norwegian border to Chukotka. "
He then added: “Russia not only has the most powerful icebreaking, but also [the most powerful] nuclear fleet. Therefore, there is no question of ousting us from the Arctic. The United States, NATO and other countries, including China and Japan, which have an eye on the Arctic, will have to negotiate with Russia, taking into account not only its military strength, but also the history of the region's development."
(Riafan.ru, January 10, 2019)
"The new modular military camp in Tiksi, a Yakut village, where units of the Northern Fleet air defense will be deployed soon, is almost completed and ready for occupancy," Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, the Northern Fleet stated.
(Tass.ru, March 13, 2019)
Northern Fleet Rescue Forces Train For Barents 2019 Russian-Norwegian Exercises
On March 11, the crew of the rescue tugboat Altai of the Northern Fleet search and rescue forces began training for the Barents 2019 annual joint Russian-Norwegian search-and-rescue exercises. Traditionally it will be held at the end of May in the waters of the Barents Sea. This year the event will take place in the Russian zone of responsibility.
The main objectives of the drills are to improve skills in searching and rescuing people in distress at sea, to prevent pollution of the marine area by oil products in the conditions of industrial development in the Arctic.
On March 12, the first conference with representatives of Norway will be held in Murmansk, to discuss organizational issues of preparing and conducting the Barents-2019 exercise.
The Altai rescue tugboat, an Il-38 plane and a Ka-27PS helicopter will be detached from the Northern Fleet to participate in the combat training event. It is also planned to involve the multifunctional icebreaker Ilya Muromets, for which this exercise will be the first.
The Barents International Exercise is held annually in accordance with the 1995 Barents SAR Agreement between the Russian government and the Norwegian government on cooperation in search and rescue in the Barents Sea. The exercise is alternately supervised by representatives of the Russian and Norwegian search and rescue forces.
(Mil.ru, March 11, 2019)
On the "Barents-2019", the military of the two countries will train skills and practice in the search and rescue people in distress at sea, and on preventing of the oil pollution of the marine area under conditions of active industrial development of the Arctic.
(Rg.ru, March 11, 2019)
Russian Naval Aviation Has Increased Its Arctic Force
"In the near future, many Russian airfields in the Arctic will become all-season. They will be able to receive all types of aircraft, including missile carriers," the head of the naval aviation of the Russian Navy, Major General Igor Kozhin, noted. He then added that the foreign military presence in the Arctic is actively expanding, its scale is increasing, and NATO reconnaissance and combat training activities are becoming more active. Therefore, naval aviation of the Russian Navy has not only increased its force in the Arctic, it is working out tactical techniques.
(Rg.ru, March 11, 2019)
The Nuclear-Powered Icebreaker 'Ural'
Specialists of JSC "Baltiysky Zavod" (part of the United Northern Command) loaded the last bow section of the forecastle deck onto the nuclear-powered icebreaker "Ural", completing the formation of the entire hull of the nuclear-powered icebreaker. The weight of the section is almost 70 tons.
The nuclear-powered icebreaker "Ural" is the third vessel constructed under Project 22220. The vessels of this type, after construction is completed, will become the most powerful nuclear-powered icebreakers in the world and will have to ensure smooth uninterrupted year-round navigation in the western Arctic.
(Tass.ru, March 15, 2019)
The estimated cost of developing, designing and technically documenting the creation of a super-powered atomic icebreaker "Leader" exceeds 3 billion rubles.
(Tass.ru, March 15, 2019)
Russia Will Develop The Arctic Versions Of The Mi-26 And Mi-38
The "Helicopters of Russia" holding company will develop the Arctic versions of the Mi-26 and Mi-38. This became known at the Aero India 2019 exhibition, which was held in Bangalore. As Andrei Boginsky, Director General of the Russian Helicopters holding company, told reporters, there is already an Arctic version based on the Mi-8. But the company plans to create an arctic helicopters based both on the Mi-38 and on the Mi-26.
(Rg.ru, February 25, 2019)
Investments In The Arctic
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Russia has sent to the government a comprehensive plan for the implementation of the mineral and logistical potential of the Arctic, involving, in particular, the allocation of about 10.5 trillion rubles of extra budgetary investments until 2030 for its implementation.
It is noted that while maintaining the inertial scenario of development of the industry, the level of cargo traffic in the Arctic could be about 60 million tons by 2024, and with a breakthrough scenario for all project groups, by 2024, mineral resources traffic on the Northern Sea Route alone could reach 77 million tons.
(Tass.ru, March 13, 2019)
- The South Korean company Hyundai Heavy Industries expects to supply power equipment with a total of 102 MW for the Arctic project in the Russian Federation. (Tass.ru, March 15, 2019; read the full article in Russian)
- The Russian military plans to bolster its positions in the Arctic with additional air defense systems as it flexes its muscle in the hydrocarbon-rich region, a top naval commander has said. The Defense Ministry has worked at breakneck pace to reassert its presence in the region by reopening old defense installations and deploying new weaponry. Russia in particular aims to secure access to the Northern Sea Route, a strategic shipping corridor between Asia and Europe. (Themoscowtimes.com, March 13, 2019; read the full article)
- The scientific expedition "Transarctic 2019", in which four scientific vessels will participate this year, will be the first such large-scale study of the Arctic in the last 30 years. (Tass.ru, March 12, 2019; read the full article in Russian)
- The nuclear container ship Sevmorput sets course for the Arctic LNG 2 project. (Tass.ru, March 6, 2019; read the full article in Russian)
- The small anti-submarine ship "Snezhnogorsk" and the small rocket ship "Iceberg" of the Kola Flotilla of the Northern Fleet carried out a complex of artillery exercises on the ranges of the Barents Sea. (Tass.ru, February 21, 2019)
- Arctic radar complex for unmanned aerial vehicles was created in Russia. It will be used for operational intelligence and monitoring of the Arctic region and the Northern Sea Route. (Rg.ru, December 20, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
The Venezuelan Crisis
Senator Alexey Pushkov tweeted: "The withdrawal of all American diplomats from Venezuela with a high degree of certainty signifies the US preparation for the use of a power phase in the overthrow of Maduro. As a rule they extract the diplomats before military actions. Although it is unlikely that it will embark on direct military intervention, this is a sinister indication."
(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, March 15, 2019)
The Russian Foreign Ministry termed the electricity blackout in Venezuela sabotage from abroad so labeled Zakharova "according to the data supplied by the country's legal government headed by President Maduro and other trustworthy sources, the electro energy sector of Venezuela was attacked from abroad." The perpetrators were responsible for the deaths of people left without electricity in the hospitals. "We hope that this liability will sooner or later take the form of a judicial verdict."
(Rbc.ru, March 15, 2019)
Russia's ambassador to Caracas, Vladimir Zayemsky, announced Russia's willingness to help Venezuela reconstruct its electricity system. "Of course our country is prepared to extend support to our strategic partner Venezuela in its difficult moment."
Deputy Russian FM Sergey Ryabkov promised to develop relations with Venezuela regardless of US pressure "We have developed and will continue to develop absolutely normal, natural, mutually advantageous and legitimate cooperation in various realms: energy, oil exploration, mining, military-technical cooperation that has successfully developed between us over the course of years."
(Ria.ru, March 17, 2019)
March 18, The Anniversary Of The Crimea 'Unification' And Relations With Ukraine In The Run Up To The Ukraine Elections
The First Deputy Speaker of the Crimean Republic State Council Yefim Fiks spoke of the possible economic losses sustained by the peninsula as a result of being under Ukraine. "For the Ukrainian leaders this will be a terrible statistic. We are dealing with hundreds of billions possibly a trillion rubles. This is at the very minimum."
(Rg.ru, March 16, 2019)
Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin claimed that Ukraine had to reimburse Crimea for its losses over 25 years and the destructive policy it conducted. He voiced this opinion at a joint meeting between the Duma Council and the Crimean State Council in Simferopol. Volodin accused Ukraine of acting extremely dishonestly and destroying the fundamental rights of the citizens, the right to an education the right to their native language. Ukraine destroyed the economy of Crimea and Sevastopol. "It is necessary to calculate how much Ukraine owes and since the EU still supports them, what arrears should be assumed by the EU."
(Rg.ru, March 15, 2019)
Visiting Crimea was Bundestag member Gunnar Lindemann from the AfD party. He declared: "The sanctions must be lifted as soon as possible. The citizens of Crimea have held a referendum they decided to separate from Ukraine and unite with the Russian Federation and that is a people's right. The vote was democratic and it is necessary to respect it."
(Gazeta.ru March 16, 2019)
Italian PM Conte: We Are Working Towards Removing The Sanctions
Italy is working towards removing the sanctions on Russia. This is what Italian PM Giuseppe Conte declared.
"With Moscow – he explained – we are putting into effect our traditional inclination for dialogue. Soon after the vote of confidence [on the budget law], I flew to Canada in order to look after the problem of sanctions".
Italy will help Russia repair the damages caused by the sanctions over the liquefied natural gas (LNG).
According to the chief of the Italian government, a "dialogue" with Russia is necessary for protecting "our national interest". And this is something that the US president Donald Trump, with whom "we" have a "personal sympathy", "perfectly" understands.
"We are working with the objective of removing the sanctions: this goal cannot be reached overnight, but we all must work towards this end. This would defuse tensions and foster a dialogue even towards the countries that are more exposed to Russian influence", Conte said.
(It.sputniknews.com, March 9, 2019)
Italian Speaker Of The House Fico: Russia Is A Fundamental And Historic Interlocutor For Italy
In an interview released to the Russian Agency Ria Novosti on the occasion of his visit to Moscow, the.Italian Speaker of the House of Representatives, Roberto Fico, said that Russia is a fundamental and historic interlocutor for Italy.
"Russia is a fundamental and historic interlocutor for Italy and for the European Union, but it is also a country that plays a key role in different crisis and conflict areas in North Africa and the Middle East", declared Fico to Ria Novosti prior to the start of the sixteenth meeting of the Great Inter-Parliamentary Commission Italy-Russia. "I think that it is never right to talk about adversaries, regardless of the context," said Fico.
"The issue of the sanctions to Russia, must be addressed in the framework of the European Union as a whole," Fico added. "I am convinced that it would be useful to find a way out and I will certainly talk about this in my address to the Duma and during my meeting with Speaker Volodin," he added, alluding to the meeting with his counterpart Vyacheslav Volodin.
(Milanofinanza.it, March 4, 2019)