The Northern Sea Route is the shortest shipping lane connecting European
part of Russia with the Far East and Syberia. The search for a route to
China and India, undertaken by the English, Dutch and Russians, went on
from mid 16th century until the end of 19th century. Its importance in
the present day is exemplified by the traffic: 2007 alone saw 10 million
tons of goods shipped along the Route.
The Northern Sea Route is the apple of Russia’s eye. It plays a major
part in the Transport Strategy of the Russian Federation until 2030,
Russia also produced Concept of the Northern Sea Route Development until
2015 and a draft newlaw specifically addressing shipping along it.
A crucial factor in economic feasibility of the route is the state of
relations between members of the Arctic Council (the United States,
Canada, Russia, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark), the
observer states (Germany, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom,
Spain and Poland) and the states that requested observer status (China,
Japan, South Korea).