On the Great Silk Road—the Ice Silk Road—the road of peace and economic cooperation


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About the Author

Anatoly I. Elchaninov

Russian Scientific Research Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage after D.S. Likhachev,
Kosmonavtov str., 2, 129366, Moscow, Russia,
E-mail: aelchaninov@mail.ru


The project on the organization of trade relations between China and other countries arose in the second half of the II century BC. The caravan road connecting East Asia with the Mediterranean in the ancient time and to the Middle Ages was used, first of all, for export of silk from China. Therefore in 1877 the German geographer F.F. von Richtgofen called this route giving the chance for establishment of business contacts, cultural dialogue, promoting to mutual enrichment of large civilizations,—“A Silk Road”. By XV century the overland Silk Road fell into decay, sea trade and navigation began to develop.

At the present stage of its development the mankind realized need of restitution of the interstate and international interaction inherent in the period of existence of the Great Silk Road.

At the XXIV session of the UNESCO General conference in 1987 the project on complex studying of the Great Silk Road was developed. This international project worked according to two large programs of UNESCO: “The environment surrounding the person, resources of the ground and sea” and “The culture and the future”.

In the next years development of the idea of reconstruction and expansion of the opportunities put in the ancient times in the Great Silk Road continued.

In 2013 the Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the concept of “A New Silk Road” under the slogan “One Belt – One Road” including the “Economic Belt of the Silk Road” and “Sea Silk Road of the XXI Century” projects. The strategy of “A New Silk Road” included the project of development of the Northern Sea Route.

The Northern Sea Route—the major navigable main passing across the seas of Arctic Ocean, connecting the European and Far East ports and also mouths of the navigable Siberian rivers into the unified transport system of the Arctic.

The history of the Northern Sea Route began with the first voyages of the Pomors. Development, studying and the description of sea routes of the Russian Arctic continued further. Development of the Arctic navigation promoted the beginning of the industrial development of natural resources of the region. The large-scale industrial development of the Arctic territories began in the 1930s.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945 ice breakers played a large role in conducting of northern convoys. The existing ports were specially converted, new polar stations are built and also additional airfields are developed. In post-war years the Arctic navigation gained further development thanks to the commissioning of icebreaking vessels of new classes.

The map of the Northern Sea Route on which the objects built in the 1930–1940s are shown is presented in the article.

In July, 2017 during the visit to Russia the chairman Xi Jinping with the president V.V. Putin reached the important agreement on development and use of the Arctic Sea Route and creation of the Ice Silk Road, the sea way uniting North America, East Asia and Western Europe.

Within the project of “The Ice Silk Road” tankers with production of Yamal LNG for the first time in the history went the Arctic Sea Route without icebreaking maintenance in the summer of 2018 and arrived from the Arctic port Sabbeta to the Chinese port Jiangsu Zhudong. By these flights the beginning of the regular supply of LNG across the Northern Sea Route is opened.


Great Silk Road, Northern Sea Route, Ice Silk Road, way of the world, economic cooperation, cultural heritage, mapping.


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For citation: Elchaninov A.I. On the Great Silk Road—the Ice Silk Road—the road of peace and economic cooperation InterCarto. InterGIS. GI support of sustainable development of territories: Proceedings of the International conference. Moscow: Moscow University Press, 2019. V. 25. Part 2. P. 330–344. DOI: 10.35595/2414-9179-2019-2-25-330-344 (In Russian)