Bering Strait Tunnel in British Press
August 22, 2011 • 8:05AM

The Times and The Sun of London, today both reported on the Russian conference in Yakutsk, eastern Siberia, Aug 17-19, which discussed the Bering Strait tunnel project.

As reported in the Aug 17 briefing, the conference was hosted by the government of the Sakha Republic/Yakutia, with sponsorship by Russia's Council for the Study of Productive Forces (SOPS) and Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The SOPS, a joint organization of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the country's Ministry of Economics, has its roots in Academician Vladimir Vernadsky's KEPS organization of 1915-1930. The SOPS was formerly headed by the late Academician Alexander Granberg, a specialist in regional development projects who vigorously advocated building a tunnel across the Bering Strait, until his death last year (see EIR, Sept. 3, 2010), and was an endorser of the November 2009 call to "Put the LaRouche Plan to Save the World Economy on the International Agenda."

The Times headline read: "Report: Tunnel Linking U.S. to Russia Gains Support. 'The greatest railway project of all time' would enable trains to travel from NYC to London, England." The Times report, which is available only to subscribers, was also covered by MSNBC and The Voice of Russia Today.

Senior Russian officials reportedly backed a plan to build a 65-mile tunnel between North America and Asia, MSNBC quoted The Times. This would make a 5,000-mile train trip from London to New York City possible. The $60 billion tunnel got the backing of some of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's top officials. The tunnel would mean Russian territory would meet U.S. jurisdiction underneath the islands of Big Diomede, which is Russian, and Little Diomede, which is American.

One of the officials supporting the plan is Aleksandr Levinthal, the deputy federal representative for the Russian Far East. The Times described the history dating back to the reign of Nicholas II, whose government twice approved the tunnel, but World War I and then the Russian revolution intervened. Supporters think it would be a cheaper, faster, and safer way to move goods around the world than container ships, estimating it could carry about 3 percent of global freight and make about $7 billion a year.

Levinthal and several other Moscow officials took part in a conference in Yakutsk in eastern Russia that discussed how to improve infrastructure in the region, the Times said. A 500-mile rail line linking Yakutsk to the Trans-Siberian railway is currently being built, and Russia plans to lay more track to connect mineral-rich areas to freight lines. "We should see advanced development of road and rail infrastructure here [in the Russian Far East] and improvement in the investment climate in Russia as a key aim," Levinthal said, according to The Times. (The Sun also published this quote.) The tunnel would be the first dry connection between the two continents since a land bridge 21,000 years ago.

Stephen Dalziel, head of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, sounded a note of caution, suggesting that U.K. investors, at least, were unlikely to put money into the tunnel project until it actually began. "It would be a great idea, if it worked," he said. The idea was discussed in 2007 at a conference in Moscow called "Megaprojects of Russia's East."

The London Times did not note it, but Lyndon LaRouche was an invited presenter at that 2007 conference, and wrote an article which was read for him at the opening session, under the title, "The World's Map Changes; Mendeleyev Would Have Agreed."

George Koumal, president of the Interhemispheric Bering Strait Tunnel and Railroad Group, called on governments to back the tunnel at the just-concluded meeting. He suggested that it would bring the two peoples closer together, noting the current lack of links. "There are very few [Russian] people who have stood on the beach in Alaska," he said. "Seemingly you can stretch out your hand and touch Mother Russia."

However, at that time, a Russian economics ministry official threw cold water on the idea, wondering who would pay for the project. But the Sun quoted Levinthal: "We should see advanced development of road and rail infrastructure here in the Russian Far East and improvement in the investment climate in Russia as a key aim."