Ambassador Antonov’s speech at the World Trade Center Anchorage event
It's a pleasure for me to speak before the business council of Alaska.
- My meetings with business representatives take place on a regular basis. I regularly speak to companies that comprise the U.S.-Russia Business Council (USRBC) in Washington. We are interested in a direct and candid dialogue with U.S. companies that operate in Russia.
- We have to work in unprecedented conditions of complicated Russia-U.S. relations.
- Such state of affairs does not meet the interests of our countries – permanent members of the UN Security Council. It is clear that both our countries have serious disagreements. Although we always proceeded from the fact that in maintaining peace and stability Russia and the U.S. can and must find common ground. As largest nuclear powers we bear a special responsibility for security on the planet. That is why we should act carefully, rely on finding mutual understanding and compromise, toning down disagreements and avoiding confrontation.
- Sanctions disturb us. Nevertheless, even statistics tells of intensions of businessmen of both countries to have pragmatic relations. The trade turnover between the two countries grew by 13% in 2018 and reached 27,5 billion dollars (24 billion dollars in 2017). Clearly, these numbers do not show the potential at hand. Although they show an important trend.
- Our principal approaches remain unchanged. We do not intend to punish businessmen who work in our country for political disagreements. Our course is to maintain an attractive environment for them, create the most comfortable preconditions for private investments in technological and perspective projects.
- The overwhelming majority of U.S. companies do not wish to abandon the Russian market. They actively participate in all formats of cooperation between the government and private sector available in our country. The U.S. delegation was the second largest to attend the recently concluded St. Petersburg International Economic Forum – 520 representatives. China was the only country to send more – 1 thousand people. 2018 showed that the U.S. was the largest investor in our country – 376 million dollars.
- We regard interregional ties as one of the most perspective areas. I can tell you from personal experience – the further from Washington – the more open and amicable are the people towards Russia.
- Another such area of cooperation is the Arctic. In this regard Alaska plays a special role.
- Geographical – the distance between the Big Diomede and the Little Diomede islands in the Bering Sea, owned by Russia and the U.S. correspondingly – is just 2,5 miles.
Historical – here, not far from Juno, lies the city of Sitka – known in Russia as Novoarkhangelsk. For dozens of years until 1867 it was the capital city of the “Russian America”. Or, let's take for instance the events of the “Alaska-Siberia” air route that functioned during the Second World War. Soviet military pilots used it to ferry U.S. airplanes (around 8 thousand of them) within “the lend-lease”, transferred diplomats and diplomatic mail.
- Among the uniting moments – common cultural and ethnic heritage of nations inhabiting Alaska and, for example, the Chukchi Peninsula, common goals to preserve the Northern identity, protect the ecosystem of the Arctic. And, certainly, an aspiration to economically develop the unique resources of the North. Russia remains unchanged in its attitude towards the Arctic - a territory for peace, constructive cooperation and neighborly relations, with no potential for military conflicts.
- The Arctic already generates 15% of the Russian GDP. We have an ambitious program to develop this most important region.
- As Arctic ice melts, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) evolves into one of the most important transport routes with significant future economic profit. That is why we place a special emphasis on developing transport and other infrastructure.
Our goal is to establish a global transport corridor, which would also encompass the NSR, that would be operationally safe, effective and available year-long.
We intend to increase effectiveness of the ports on each side of the NSR. We invite our foreign partners to joint work in creating transfer-ports on each endpoint of the route – in Murmansk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.
Among immediate projects is creation of the Northern Latitudinal Railway across the Urals. This railway will allow to begin effective development of natural resources found in Yamal and Polar Ural, and in the future – in Northern Krasnoyarsk Krai.
- We also work on a special legislation to establish a special preference system for investors in the Arctic zone. We intend to use every mechanism to support investments.
- We work to boost key social and economic conditions in our Arctic regions, so that they will reach average Russian levels. With that we stand for joint peaceful exploration of the Arctic region. We are ready for cooperation with all interested states.
- Talking about cooperation perspectives, I would like to point out the energy industry. We are aware that Alaska is interested in supplying distant regions with energy carriers. Russia is working on such possibilities. I am talking about the “Novatek” company that builds terminals for transporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Yamal in the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy (operational by 2023). Some batches of LNG, should there be interest, could be transported to the ports of your state.
- Alaskan experience in promoting tourism is of great interest to our Northern and Far East regions, as well as possibilities of establishing tours from the state to neighboring Russian territories; delivering first aid to distant regions, providing energy to distant settlements; cooperation in energy effectiveness and exchanging experience in thermal insulation housing; technologies for effective development of water resources, experience and regulation of light aviation. These are the areas, which could be of special interest to Alaskan businessmen in our country.
- “The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue Forum” successfully concluded in April in Saint-Petersburg. This is the largest conference in the world on activities in the North. Previous meeting in Arkhangelsk in 2017 was attended by official Washington representatives and your state leadership. This year we welcomed leaders from Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and the Foreign Minister of Denmark.
- It is very important to use different formats, within which we could discuss unifying agenda for our cooperation across the Bering Strait.
- The Fifth Annual Eastern Economic Forum will take place on September 4-6, 2019. This is the leading dialogue platform for government and business representatives devoted to the development of the Far East and trade and investment ties with the countries of the Asian-Pacific region. The Forum traditionally focuses significant attention on the issues of the North. By the way, our Ministry for the Development of the Far East supervises implementation of projects of the Russian Arctic zone. In 2017 the Forum was attended by the Governor of California Mr. Jerry Brown. Last year it was attended by the Chinese President Xi Jinping. This year we invite the Alaskan authorities to attend it.
- The leaders, business representatives and citizens of your state are always welcome at the leading Russian events concerning the North.
- Thank you for your attention!