Expert council to determine criteria for backbone cities in the Arctic
The list of backbone cities of Russia’s Arctic zone will be compiled by November 1, 2023. All of these cities will receive additional funding for infrastructure development, Murmansk Region Governor Andrei Chibis said during the first meeting of the expert council of the working group for the development of the Arctic under the Russian State Council.
“The working group for the development of the Arctic under the State Council has been working for less than a year. But it has already proposed several initiatives that received the support of President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Among them are the comprehensive modernization of closed cities and cities where military personnel and their families live, as well as the expansion of concessional mortgages at the interest rate of 2 percent in Russia’s Arctic zone and the Arctic backbone cities. At the previous meeting of the working group, we pointed out the need to develop a special approach and tools to develop strategically important communities in the Arctic zone, those that have a strategic value for the development of the entire Russian Arctic. At the meeting of the working group, we agreed to introduce the term “backbone cities of the Arctic” to improve the state support measures designed to boost the social and economic development of Russian regions located in the Arctic zone. I want to thank Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev and Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic Alexei Chekunkov for the support of our initiative,” Governor Andrei Chibis said in his opening remarks.
He also said that this proposal was supported by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, who gave instructions to compile the list of backbone cities of the Arctic following his trip to the Murmansk Region this July.
The expert council comprises experts and members of the research community, in particular, Alexander Pilyasov, Professor at the Geography Department of Lomonosov Moscow State University, general director of the Institute for Regional Consulting; Sergei Sivayev, Professor at the Higher School of Economics, key expert on the utilities sector development, as well as employees of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and of the Center for Strategic Research.
At the first meeting, the expert council members discussed approaches for developing criteria to determine a notion for “being deemed as a backbone community” in the Arctic.
“The President said specifically that population size should not be the key factor in outlining criteria for backbone towns. It is a very important point because in Russia’s Arctic zone, there are over 1,000 communities, including 90 cities and towns. Most of them are small in terms of population but together they provide some 10 percent of the country’s GDP. The Russian Arctic is the country’s main resource base. Another key function of the Arctic communities is providing for the work of the Northern Sea Route, one of the global transit projects. In addition, some cities and towns in the Russian Arctic are the key centers safeguarding the entire country’s national security. Such cities as Murmansk and Arkhangelsk can undoubtedly be classified as backbone in terms of a number of important functions. Our task now is to outline the list of such key communities which have huge strategic importance for the development of the entire Arctic,” Andrei Chibis said.
The results of the expert council’s work will be submitted for review to the working group under the State Council, and then to the office for the development of cities and other communities of the Russian Arctic zone under the Ministry for the Development of the Far East and Arctic, led by Alexei Chekunkov.