Voyage Through the North: Domestic and International Challenges to Arctic Shipping

In K. Keil and S. Knecht (eds), Governing Arctic Change. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, pp. 257-278.

The Russian imaginary of the Northern Sea Route is very much connected to its domestic role. It provides the shortest distance between Russia’s eastern and western borders in the north, and it gives access to areas and settlements in the north without any land connections. Attention is increasingly given to resource extraction in the Arctic. The fundamental attraction for international shipping’s use of the NSR is the shorter distance between ports in the Pacific and the Atlantic. These imaginaries have different implications for how the sea route will be or should be developed. The most probable development now is that international transit will continue to grow slowly, since the fundamentals of the NSR remain interesting for segments of international shipping. But it will become a secondary activity and not a driver for development of the NSR. For internal Russian political reasons and the transport need of some extractive projects, destination shipping will grow, but not as fast as anticipated until recently.



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