Soviet experience of development of the Soviet Arctic in view of modern problems.

Review of Zubkov K.I., Karpov V.P. Development of the Russian Arctic: Soviet experience in the context

of current national strategy (on the example of the Ural Far North and Western Siberia). Moscow: Political encyclopedia, 2019. 367 p.   

Agapov M.G. (Tyumen, Russian Federation)


              page 180185


Discussed in this review are the results of the research presented in the monograph of specialists in Northern studies K.I. Zubkov and V.P. Karpov Development of the Russian Arctic: Soviet experience in the context of current national strategy (on the example of the Ural Far North and Western Siberia). The reviewer notes that, in general, the study follows the pattern of state-centrism, teleologism and geopolitical alarmism typical for modern Russian Arctic historiography. Among the most important theses of the authors of this peer-reviewed monograph, are the following ones: (1) the transport and economic development was the basis of the Russian / Soviet Arctic exploration program; (2) the Soviet strategy of the Far North development dictated mainly the technocratic and commodity character of the territory exploitation; (3) modern Russia inherits the definition of the priorities of the state policy in the Arctic Region from the Soviet Union and relies on the territorial and production complexes created back in the USSR. The reviewer expresses serious doubts about the scientific productivity of the classic geopolitical paradigm used by the authors of the monograph: geared towards large-scale generalizations, it is simply unable to capture the full range of contradictions arising in the process of exploration of the Arctic Region. Hence the authors tendency to present the entire process of Arctic Region exploration as predetermined, while in reality the history of the Russian Arctic Region colonization is full of collisions; it is more intermittent than consistent. In particular, draws attention the constant reproduction of the same topoi in the rhetoric of Arctic Region exploration. For example, from age to age, it has been repeated that the Northern Sea Route is just about to become the largest transnational waterway. The reviewer notes the ambiguity of practical recommendations of the authors. Thus, repeatedly expressing the idea of Russias interest in the international cooperation in the development of the Arctic, the authors are concerned to the same extent that foreign partners may force Russia out of the region. The review is aimed at opening a debate on approaches to understanding the Soviet experience in the Arctic Region development.

Key words: Arctic Region, Northern Sea Route, Western Siberia, the Urals, geopolitics, development of the North.

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Accepted: 02.03.2020

Article is published: 05.06.2020


Agapov M.G.

Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Malygina st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation

Tyumen State University, Volodarskogo st., 6, Tyumen, 625003, Russian Federation