Russia Declares Northern Passage Effectively Closed to Foreign Warships
There will be no US Navy 'Freedom of Navigation' operations in the Russian Arctic
Russia has been actively strengthening its defense capability in the Arctic region lately. The gradual melting of Arctic ice makes the passage of foreign warships near Russia’s northern borders possible. In light of this, a set of rules was introduced for the passage of ships along the Northern Sea Route (NSR).
All foreign countries must comply with the rules, and there can be no exception made. For example, for a destroyer or an aircraft carrier to enter the zone of the Northern Sea Route, the captain of a foreign ship is supposed to warn the Russian Navy 45 days in advance.
Foreign submarines are required to pass the NSR only in the surface position. In addition to the information about the time, the commander of the submarine is obliged to give information about the type of the sub, its displacement, type of power plant and equipment. The commander is also required to report his rank and full name.
A Russian marine pilot will need to stay on board a foreign vessel. If there is a probability that the ship is poorly maintained or may pollute waterways of the Northern Sea Route, Russia has a reason to deny the passage of the foreign vessel.
In the water area of the Northern Sea Route, NATO ships and submarines pose the greatest threat. Therefore, if someone decides to break the rules, foreign vessels will be arrested.
At least ten military bases have been deployed to defend the northern part of the country. Some of them are designed for air defense systems, while others are designed for surface vessels and submarines.
It goes without saying that the new rulebook applies only to warships. Civilian ships can still pass the Northern Sea Route as before. Russia can only profit from assisting foreign merchant ships in passing hazardous areas.
A sea journey from Western Europe to Japan or China is 40% shorter through the Arctic than through the Suez Canal. The countries of East Asia are interested in delivering goods via the Arctic. There are frequent cases of pirate attacks while passing through the Suez Canal.
Therefore, the prospects for the development of the Arctic region are enormous. Yet, in order to keep influence and control on this geostrategic area, Russia needs energy and brains in the first place.