From Volume 38, Issue 35 of EIR Online, Published September 9, 2011
Russia and the CIS News Digest

Russian Government Paper Promotes Bering Strait Tunnel Concept

Sept. 1 (EIRNS)—"Yakutsk Dreams of Rail Link to Alaska," was the title of a front-page item in the Aug. 31 insert, "Russia Now," distributed by the Washington Post. The pull-out is produced and published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the daily newspaper of the Russian government. The report on a recent conference in Yakutsk (see EIR Online, Sept. 2, 2011) was illustrated by a color image of a man and machinery at work, inside a huge tunnel, under construction. The text in full:

"The main topic of discussion at this year's Infrastructure Development of Russia's Far East Conference in Yakutsk (a sister city of Fairbanks, AK.) was the Eurasian-American transcontinental railway project. The massive project is still in a conceptual phase. If constructed, it would travel across the Bering Strait and link Eurasia with North America. Tunnel construction under the Bering Strait is considered to be one of the most ambitious proposed 21st-century inter-continental projects. In order to lay a railroad track from both sides, it would be necessary to build nearly 3,000 miles of railway tracks on Russian territory and 1,000 in Alaska and Canada. Meanwhile, a large portion of the route would pass through the [Arctic] region."

Russia Supports Regional Solution for Afghanistan

Sept. 4 (EIRNS)—Following his Sept. 1 meeting with the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev called upon Afghanistan and other central Asian nations to take more responsibility for the fate of the volatile region.

He also announced that Russia and Tajikistan will sign a deal to extend Russia's use of a military base there for another 49 years. Tajikistan and Pakistan, which both share borders with Afghanistan, are concerned about regional unrest after the United States pulls its troops out of Afghanistan. Russia's major concern is the inflow of vast amounts of heroin through the Tajikistan-Afghanistan borders on its way to Russia. Moscow's deal with Tajikistan secures a base of operation for about 6,000 troops—the Russian military's largest deployment of troops outside of Russia.

Medvedev's statement is in line with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's June 23 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which she stated that the "Core Group" of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States, has met. "At the same time, we are engaging the region around a common vision of an independent, stable Afghanistan and a region free of al-Qaeda. And this effort is paying off. India, Russia, and even Iran are now on board."

Following Clinton's later visit to India, a July 27 op-ed in a leading Indian news daily, The Hindu, India's former Ambassador to the United Nations Chinmoy Gharekhan said, "In a welcome development, the U.S. has now embraced the idea of seeking a regional solution to Afghanistan."

Russian-Chinese Far East Raw Materials Development Promoted

Sept. 5 (EIRNS)—The China Daily promotes joint Chinese-Russian development in an interview with Artyom Volynets, CEO of En+ Group, a major energy company. He said Russia has the potential to become a valued supplier of commodities to China.

"Currently the key suppliers of resources to China are Australia, Brazil and South Africa," said Volynets. "We believe that Eastern Siberia has the potential to become a major, reliable supplier of commodities to the rapidly growing Asian markets and especially to China."

In June, En+ Group's subsidiary EuroSibEnergo signed a framework agreement with China Yangtze Power Co. Ltd. that provides for joint investment in a number of power plant construction projects in Eastern Siberia. The Russian company also recently signed a $5 billion agreement with China Export-Import Bank to develop mining and power projects in Eastern Siberia.

"Siberian resources are the closest to China and that is obviously our key advantage," said Volynets, adding that the company plans to build up as much as 10 gigawatts of new power capacity in Eastern Siberia, mostly hydro, during the next decade. It only takes one day to deliver goods to China by rail from Eastern Siberia through Mongolia, according to Volynets.

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