View of Kirkenes, Norway. Photo: Wikipedia
View of Kirkenes, Norway. Photo: Wikipedia

The Independent Barents Observer is reporting that Russia and Finland are discussing the creation of a trans-Arctic fiber-optic data cable that would connect Finland, Norway and Russia with Japan and China.

Finland’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Anne Berner, reportedly brought up the possible Arctic data link in a Tuesday meeting in Moscow with Russia’s Minister of Communication, Nikolai Nikiforov. Finland’s government said the two discussed how both nations might benefit from such a fiber-optic data cable across the top of the world.

“Our aim in Finland is to provide the best possible operating environment for the development of digital services and business opportunities and to actively engage in international cooperation. One example of this is cooperation between Finland and Russia in intelligent transport systems and services,”  Berner was quoted as saying.

The Norway-based Barents Observer said the meeting was a follow up to data cable talks between Russian PM Dmitri Medvedev and Finland PM Juha Sipilä in Oulu, northern Finland, last December.

A report written by Finland’s former President Paavo Lipponen says key countries in the project are Finland, Norway, Russia, Japan and China.

“The submarine section of the cable would be a connection of around 10,500 km from Japan and China to Kirkenes in Norway and the Kola Peninsula in Russia,” the report said. From Kirkenes, the fiber cable will cross into Finnish Lapland and further south to central Europe.

Kirkenes as Arctic gateway?

Asia Times has previously reported that Finland is in the fore of Scandinavian efforts to create economic links with China’s Belt and Road project and Russian energy facilities along the Northern Sea Route.

A group of Finnish academics and business leaders have proposed building a US$3.4 billion “Arctic Corridor” railway that would connect Northern Europe with Russia, China and Arctic Ocean deep-water ports. It would connect the city of Rovaniemi in northern Finland with the Norwegian port of Kirkenes on the Barents Sea.

Ships could move goods from China as well as oil and gas from Arctic fields in Russia westward along the Northern Sea Route to Kirkenes. Cargos would be offloaded to the railway and sent southward through rail connections to Scandinavia, Helsinki, the Baltic states and the rest of Europe.

The proposal has the backing of the Finnish and Norwegian governments and feasibility studies are underway.