The Arctic in the history of Russia

Russia has been exploring the Arctic for hundreds of years. Since ancient times, people have been drawn to the north in search of valuable furs. The islands of the Arctic Ocean were active hunting grounds for the Pomors, Russian settlers on the White Sea coast. In 1499, the first Russian city in the Arctic, Pustozersk, was founded. Today, unfortunately, it lies abandoned. The first Russian expedition to the Arctic did not initially have a research purpose. Cossack ataman Semyon Dezhnev was sent there to find walrus and fish bones. But having rounded Chukotka, he made a vitally important discovery - the strait between Eurasia and North America. Under Peter I at the beginning of the 18th century, Russia built a powerful fleet, which opened up great opportunities for polar research. Based on the results of the expeditions of Vitus Bering, the Laptev brothers and Semyon Chelyuskin for the period 1734-1743. A detailed map of the Arctic coasts, rivers and islands of Russia was compiled. These voyages went down in history under the general name of the Great Northern Expedition. In the 19th century, Russian discoverers of the Arctic came under pressure from foreign explorers. This is why, for example, the large Franz Josef Land archipelago in the Arctic Ocean bears a non-Russian name despite the fact that it belongs to Russia. Discovered by Austrian explorers in 1873, it was named after the Austro-Hungarian emperor. In its twilight years, the Russian Empire sought not only to explore, but also to develop the Arctic. To ensure year-round navigation, the world's first polar icebreaker, Ermak, was launched in 1899. And in 1916, on the eve of the revolution, Murmansk was founded, now one of the largest urban centers of the Russian North. The government did everything it could to encourage people to move to the Arctic. What the Russian Empire began, the Soviet Union completed. In 1932, Otto Schmidt made the first non-stop voyage on an icebreaker along the Northern Sea Route along the Arctic coast of Russia from Europe to Asia. Following such icebreakers, ordinary ships began to sail continuously from Murmansk to Vladivostok for periods ranging from several weeks to two months. In 1937, the world's first drifting ice station in the Arctic Ocean was opened in the USSR. In total, 31 such stations will be built in Soviet times, and ten more in modern Russia. On June 18-20, 1937, the long-range experimental aircraft ANT-25 under the command of Valery Chkalov made the world's first non-stop flight from the USSR to the USA via the North Pole. In the post-war period, the USSR launched a powerful icebreaker fleet, including nuclear-powered ships, into the Arctic. And in 1977, it was a Soviet icebreaker that became the world's first surface ship to reach the North Pole.
Made on