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Putin signs policy order encouraging Arctic population

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during the International Arctic Forum in Saint Petersburg on April 9, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Russia is creating opportunities for its nationals to relocate to the Arctic, as part of a plan approved by President Vladimir Putin, which is aimed at increasing the population and accelerating economic development of the remote energy rich region.

According to the Kremlin, President Putin signed an executive order —Principles of Russian Federation State Policy in the Arctic to 2035 — to set out Moscow’s policy plans for the Arctic in the next 15 years.

As part of the plan, authorities are encouraging more people to relocate to the remote region, with promises of payouts and infrastructure development.

According to the 15-year strategy, Russia will also help by boosting private investment in key energy projects on the Arctic shelf.

It is planning to develop huge new energy projects in its remote territory; creating tens of thousands of jobs and using the Northern Sea Route to export oil and gas to overseas markets as it becomes increasingly free of ice, due to global warming.

Under the plan, everything must be done to ensure that the Arctic remains "a territory of peace, stable and mutually beneficial partnerships."

The document also outlined plans for deploying more military forces in the Arctic, to enhance the capabilities of the Arctic forces in the 15 upcoming years.

Moscow will upgrade air, water and underwater surveillance systems, as part of plans to repair and build new military infrastructure in the Arctic.

Russia has been heavily investing in the exploration and development of the Arctic in recent years, as melting ice opens shipping lanes and reveals incredible riches.

Putin's order comes as the US plans what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations — similar to those in the South China Sea — to increase its presence in the North Atlantic and Arctic.

President Donald Trump had formerly floated the idea of purchasing Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, which is located between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

China, as another major world power, is not currently planning for a military presence in the region, but it has been focusing on energy and resources, via investment in Arctic countries.

The current race for increasing presence in the region comes as the North Pole is plagued by an unprecedented heat-wave, which is threatening a global rise in sea levels.

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