The Russian policy on critical infrastructure protection was outlined in the early 2000s and has been consolidated in recent years as a part of the national security strategy. It is built upon the civil defence system of the Soviet era, a system that has been modernized under the auspices of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia.
The Russian policies on critical infrastructure protection (CIP) are evolving against a background composed of an uneasy combination of factors: the degeneration of infrastructures critical for the country’s economic and social development, and the de-legitimization of political institutions responsible for protecting ‘population’ and ‘territory’. The recent major catastrophes in Russia, the forest fires in 2010 in particular, have become examples of political events that offer a point of reference for the current regime’s failure to uphold its promises of ‘order and stability’.
Global climate change and the extraction of natural resources in the Arctic region are regarded as both a challenge and an opportunity for Russia. In Russian and European discussions, the Northern Sea Route is usually viewed in terms of opportunity, as it will form one of the major corridors of the global commercial flows. The extraction of oil and gas reserves in the Arctic is a long-term project that has intensified in recent years, although the pace of development has slowed down of late. However, it is generally acknowledged that the ‘opening of the new northern frontier’ is anything but simple. Climate change, and the possible melting of the Russian permafrost resulting from it, poses a real challenge that adds an entirely new dimension to the notion of ‘critical infrastructures’.