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Thursday, 31 March 2016 15:41

Things to remember when we talk about the Arctic?

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The Arctic region is frozen treasure hunt followed by all countries. In Russia, the Arctic decided to recall in the context of oil production. In fact, the range of issues related to the Arctic, much broader climate change, preservation of natural habitats, the protection of the indigenous population. His opinion on this matter with the INF shared professor Vincent F. Gallucci, director of the Canadian Arctic Research Center, University of Washington in Seattle, an expert in the field of fisheries and fisheries.

In April of 2015 the chairmanship of the Arctic Council will go to the United States. What are the main difficulties can face the United States in the upcoming agenda? How do they plan to implement a program to combat climate change in the Arctic?


US considers a serious problem of climate change, affecting both the Arctic and other regions. Until recently, Washington really did not pay enough attention to the problems of the Arctic, as the US Congress has not yet ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. This Convention is a real tool for regulating the activities of the Arctic Council, at least that part of it which is connected with the sea. Questions of land and land area - it is a separate subject of regulation. Nevertheless, climate change makes this convention all the more urgent.
Certain difficulties related to the fact that the United States maintain a relatively small part of the Arctic, which does not apply to the territory of the Arctic Ocean, as opposed to the land belonging to Canada and Russia. At the same time as the chairman of the US Arctic Council will be responsible for all activities of the circumpolar community. From a national point of view, America is the greatest relevance of the problem of the Bering Strait. This is a relatively narrow stretch of water separating the two countries. I think that in the future the strait will not be able to provide the necessary intensity of navigation between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The ship passed through the Bering Strait to the west, in fact, does not fall directly into the Pacific Ocean, and is in a huge water area of the Bering Sea, located in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean. In my opinion, this is one of the issues that the United States and Russia could discuss with both Arctic and non-Arctic states with.

Fighting climate change is one of the tasks that will be on the agenda of the American presidency. One of the constantly worsening challenges not only in the US but also in Canada - the decline of the settlements and economy of indigenous peoples, the loss of their livelihood. This is already leading to severe environmental consequences. The populations of polar bears, walruses and many other animals at risk to die because of irregularities in food chains. Many species are threatened with extinction. The polar bear population has seen notable changes: individuals lose weight significantly reduced the number of pups in the litters.
These issues are of great importance for the United States, as directly affect the interests of the US population and are vital to indigenous peoples. I think that Admiral Robert J.. Papp, who should become the new chairman of the Arctic Council, will be very interested in continuing a constructive dialogue with Russia. In my opinion, Russia and the US have more common interests than differences, especially in the Arctic. For example, neither of the two countries do not want the Arctic Council or any other organization to tell them what to do.

How do you assess the current cooperation between Russia and the United States in the Arctic?

In the Arctic, the United States and Russia are many common issues requiring decisions and regulation. At the bilateral cooperation in this field problems and conflicts outside the Arctic region should not materially affect. However, a potential obstacle to its consolidation can serve as what is now Russia's attention is focused on the European border in connection with the situation in Ukraine. This can slow down the development of Arctic cooperation. We can only hope that the relations between our countries will develop successfully, as in the Arctic is too much at stake and interest in cooperation is very great.

Earlier, you mentioned the issue of navigation in the Arctic region. What are the major infrastructure projects planned for 2015 in the field of transport and the development of the Northern Sea Route? What is the role of Asian countries, such as China, in the construction of these ways?

Simple question. The real infrastructure in the Northern Sea Route is virtually absent. Therefore, if, for example, a huge hundred-meter vessel lost steering control in an emergency situation, for its repair can take anywhere from several days to several weeks. At the present time any non-Russian vessel should follow, accompanied by Russian icebreakers that can help him to repair and, more likely, the rescue work. But there is an alternative. You can refer to the Chinese side with a proposal to build a small station along the Northern Sea Route. This idea has both ardent opponents and supporters.


In fact, the case in politics. Allow another state, in this case China, to create a base on its territory and to build infrastructure facilities equivalent to empower its status as an intermediary on Russian soil. It may happen that the Russian sailors will be able to find a bath, as all signs are in Chinese.

And if we talk seriously, as a result of development projects in several African countries, China has developed not very good international reputation. In many cases, the African side hoped that will benefit from the project in the form of employment of its population during the construction and operation of the facility. But in reality, the Chinese side also bringing their work to the construction site, and then taking away, leaving a few employees to manage the object. At the same time in the Russian part of the Arctic shortcomings of this model can be compensated by a high rate of construction and the possible emergence of a new demographic group for the settlement of these lands in the case if the Russian itself not wish to live on the territory of new settlements. China, of course, will require to pay for such work, possibly in the form of oil or gas barter. I think this is a good option for Russia under the present conditions, when the basic resources are directed at resolving the European border in connection with the involvement in the situation in Ukraine, and to share resources in the Arctic are left. Overall I would call this the Russian-Chinese agreement "a calculated risk for the long-term."

Since we are talking about infrastructure, I would like to return to the topic of the Bering Strait. In my opinion, Russia should take into account the constraints of the Strait and the greater use of the possibility of Chukotka. The width of the Bering Strait between mainland Russia and possessions of the United States is only 45 miles, there are islands and rocks. In addition, sometimes the Strait is very small, and its weather characteristics and trends which will have to overcome vessels are among the most difficult in the Arctic. In other words, it is not the most suitable waterway for passage of oil tankers and cargo between the Arctic and Pacific oceans. I therefore propose Russia to consider the possibility of expanding the infrastructure of Chukotka in the direction of more southern Russian ports or directly to China, perhaps over the railway.

Source: http://russiancouncil.ru/inner/?id_4=5458#top-content

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