University Of Tasmania
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Red Antarctic : Soviet interests in the south polar region prior to the Antarctic Treaty 1946-1958

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posted on 2023-05-26, 05:51 authored by Gan, I
Despite the fact that in 2006 Russia celebrated the golden jubilee of uninterrupted research on the Antarctic continent, there has been no attempt to eXarJ.1ine the history of Soviet interest in the Antarctic in the English language. While Russian authors have written histories of Soviet Antarctic expeditions based on expedition reports, this study analyses Russian and Australian archival material, most of which has not been accessed before. After the end of World War 11, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics providentially acquired a complete German whaling flotilla as war reparations. From the time of the flotilla's first whaling operations in the Southern Ocean, a physical Soviet presence in the Antarctic was assured. The later US proposal for a solution to conflicting Antarctic territorial claims which . attempted to exclude Soviet participation and the proposal of scientists for an International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957 - 1958 not only stimulated Soviet resolve to obtain a foothold on the icy continent, but provided the opportunity to do so. The main. body of the study deals with Soviet political and logistical preparations for their IGY operations in Antarctica and their thrust into the interior of the continent to establish observatories, all situated in the Australian Antarctic Territory. In a time of Cold War tensions and unresolved Antarctic claims, the Anglo-Arnerican world (and the Australian government in particular) was especially wary of Soviet intentions. In the fimll months of the IGY, the political and scientific future of the Antarctic was being shaped, with new proposals for an international Antarctic regime and proposals for continuation of Antarctic research being discussed. This study explores the thinking of political and scientific decision makers that helped mould Soviet Antarctic policy during this time and demonstrates that the two perspectives did not necessarily coincide. Whatever the divergences of opinion, the evidence indicates that from the day the Soviets set foot on the Antarctic continent, they had no intention of leaving.


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