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War in the Arctic
Material posted: Medvedev DmitryPublication date: 06-02-2013

For a long time the Arctic has attracted attention of scientists and researchers. Significant changes in terms of geopolitical interest had occurred on 2 August 2007 – with the historical time of installation of the members of the expedition "Arktika-2007" of the Russian flag and a capsule with message to descendants at the bottom of the ocean at the North pole.

According to the findings from the monitoring of foreign media, held in St. Petersburg state University, abroad this step is regarded as Moscow's decision to determine the appropriate depth of the territory as a continuation of the Russian land. Thus was the beginning of the international competition for the Arctic has been not only Arctic countries, but also the number of States that are very far from the Arctic ocean.


Opened reserves

Many of the publications of journalists is aimed at protecting the national interests of their countries in the Arctic and creating negative image of other States. It is clearly visible that the fight for Arctic resources could lead in the twenty-first century to the cold war of a new type, different from the past in the bipolar world of the twentieth century.

Recently this struggle becomes more and more dangerous forms. Earlier foreign media with some humor, wrote about the symbolic flags war waged by the Danish and canadian expedition on the tiny Hans island, located in the ice of the Northwest passage. But when on the seabed near the island were detected reserves of oil and gas, contradictions have become aggravated. Canada held near the island military exercises, and Denmark has outlined its military presence patrol boat.

"The fate of the Arctic circle will actually show, says researcher Jody ray Bennett, is over whether the cold war or it is just freezing until the ice has melted".

Explaining what inflames the fuss is about, press, radio, TV, online edition impressive broadcast messages about the economic prospects of the Arctic. According to the UN and the US, oil reserves are estimated at 90-100 billion tons (this is several times greater than all the resources of Russia or Saudi Arabia). In the Arctic shelf is hidden from 20 to 25 percent of the world's hydrocarbon reserves. According to official U.S. geological survey, about 13 percent is still not discovered oil and 30 percent of the well-hidden natural gas are in the Arctic region. It produces almost half of world fish production. By 2030, due to the melting of the ice can be opened hitherto inaccessible Northern waterways.


Indoor Arctic club

Considerable attention is paid to the activities of the countries around the Arctic ocean, namely Russia, the USA, Canada, Norway and Denmark. These States seek to monopolize the resources of the region, covering him from any outside interference. The tensions that originate in long-standing territorial disputes between Arctic countries, reflects the competition for the extraction of considerable economic and strategic benefits that provide geographic advantages and potential resources of this vast snow-covered space.

This rivalry in 2007-2012 was noticeably expressed in the increased military activity of the Arctic States. In particular, there is the fact that there has increased the number of military exercises. So, according to the Associated Press, in March 2012 Norway hosted the largest ever Arctic military maneuvers "Golden answer", which was attended by 16 300 soldiers from 14 countries. Their goal was to learn to operate in ice conditions as when doing a real fight and prevent terrorist threats. Confirmation of severe conditions, which proceeded the doctrines, was the death of five crew members of the Norwegian C-130 Hercules that crashed near the top of the highest mountain of Sweden Kebnekaise. Even earlier, two months before these manoeuvres the press covered the maneuvers of the USA, Canada and Denmark held in the same conditions.

As part of the annual event called "Operation "Nanook" canadian, American and Danish ships also conducted joint naval maneuvers in the canadian Arctic.

In the exercise involved some of the most powerful destroyers and frigates available to each of the fleets. American USS Porter destroyer with guided missiles of the type "Arleigh Burke", was launched in 1999, equipped with a combat management system "aegis", which many experts consider to be the most modern in the world. Canadian frigate HMCS Halifax, carrying a vast Arsenal of weapons, is considered to be the only foreign ship that the us Navy allows to include in the composition of its carrier strike groups. The frigate Vaedderen Royal Danish Navy is one of the few ships of this class, specially built for operations in Arctic ice (about this ship was reported, when he went into the disputed waters surrounding the island Hans).

Canadian armed forces sent to remote Northern regions of military personnel to conduct annual military exercises in the framework of the operation entitled "Nunalivut", which translated from the language of the Inuit means "the land is ours". In these maneuvers he participated only in the world of the Danish special forces, equipped with dog sledding. The goal of joint exercises is the strengthening of canadian sovereignty in the high Arctic by establishing patrols by the canadian forces.

The Financial Times (UK) reported that a number of countries stepping up their military presence in this resource-rich and strategically important region, asserting its sovereignty over them. Among the Arctic States, especially Canada seriously reacted to the news on the placement of the Russian flag under the ice at the North pole at a depth of four kilometers. In 2007, Prime Minister Steve Harper promised to create a deep-water port in Nanisivik mine – at the Northern tip of Baffin island, to strengthen Canada's military presence in the region. Ottawa several times a year sends to the Arctic anti-submarine patrol aircraft coastal aviation Aurora CP 140, purchased in an American firm Lockheed, and the rest of the time relies on the Polar satellite, which gives a very narrow picture and therefore spends three weeks to collect information from the entire territory.

Canada is going to patrol the Arctic region using the latest unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), developed by the American military-industrial company Northrop Grumman. Duke Dufresne, Vice President and General Manager of this company, engaged in the drones, said that the acquisition of Polar Hawk UAV is part of the canadian First defense strategy. Thanks to them, Canadians will be aware of all the events in the region from passing ships to questionable mining projects, analysts say.

Ottawa had intended to buy patrol ships to demonstrate its flag in the Arctic, but perhaps now with the purchase of drones they do not need, says senior research fellow of the Canadian Institute of defense and foreign policy Denis Steyrs.

Observers note that the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark did not increase with the intensity of the combat readiness of their armed forces in Arctic conditions, even during the cold war. This is, in particular, writes Deputy Director of the Centre for military and strategic studies University of calgary Rob Hubert.


Russian troops

In the summer of 2009 the top management of Canada very sharply reacted to the message of commander VDV of Russia the General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov that Russian paratroopers plan to hold a landing at the North pole, timed to the 60th anniversary of the first landing. "We're not going to rattle anything, just quietly visit the North pole," he reassured the commander in chief. However, the head of the canadian Foreign Ministry condemned the plan, saying that Canada views it as another episode of Russian provocations in the Arctic zone.

In April 2010, dropping to the North pole took place. Thrown away by the group of 26 people, including eight foreigners from the USA, Canada, Australia, Austria, the Netherlands and South Africa. The conditions were quite difficult. The air temperature is minus 29 degrees, wind 12 meters per second. And still fit all the steps were completed successfully. At around the North pole were installed the flags of Russia and the States whose representatives participated in the assault, and a sign with the distance to Moscow and other capitals.

Friction relative to the Northern troops not only difficulty in Russian-canadian relations. In February 2009, the Ministry of defense of Canada announced the interception of Russian bombers approached canadian airspace. Russian diplomats said the training nature of the flight and complained of a return to the mentality of the cold war.



Recently the issue of militarization of the Arctic comes the idea that armies need to prepare for the risk of armed conflict, but also to combat the effects of anthropogenic and environmental disasters.

The reviewers believe that the key rates in the Arctic made Russia, Canada and the United States. USA, a little tired from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, now pushed their Northern forces into the background. A recent report by the naval Academy the U.S. it is stated that the Navy is not sufficiently ready for long-term operations in the Arctic because it lacks ships able to penetrate the ice and provide forward bases.

Observers say that from a military point of view the Arctic for Moscow is an important instrument to ensure its "hard security". With the adoption in may 2009 of a new national security Strategy of the Russian military ships and aircraft have significantly increased their patrols in the Arctic ocean. Also on the Russian owned Islands is planned the construction of several military ones with the military units.

While abroad, increased emphasis on upgrading the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the Arctic and does not take account of the transparency policy of our country in this field. The authors, while expressing concern over the deployment of Russian military compound in the vicinity of the border with the country is a NATO member (Norway), do not overlook the fact that the leadership of this Northern state one of the priority objectives of its policy considers development of cooperation with Russia. Earlier concerns about dislocation (not changed for many years) this compound from the Norwegian leadership did not arise. However, you have to consider that in plans for the modernization of the national armed forces, the government of Norway has its own national targets for increasing military presence in the region.

The biggest victory of Moscow in the fight for the Arctic foreign observers believe ratified by the State Duma on March 27, 2011 agreement with Norway on demarcation of borders in Barents sea and Arctic ocean, ending the dispute more than forty years of these States on this issue. According to the portal it will help Moscow in support of a claim for lying in the depths of the Barents sea oil reserves and other natural resources and the achievement of other strategic objectives. By the way, about this Treaty were barely mentioned in the national press, and in the network publications, he received a mixed assessment of the Russian experts.

Russia, much of which is beyond the Arctic circle, according to observers, now, obviously, the most active in their attempts to become power number one. Analysis of materials of the site "real clear world" (USA) shows that foreign analysts believe one of the main objectives of the current activities of the Russian Federation in the Arctic is evidence of geographical and territorial jurisdiction of the ridges Lomonosov and Mendeleev to the Russian part of the Arctic shelf. Assessing a broad range of interests of our country in the Arctic, political scientists argue that it will not abandon the struggle for dominance in the region. Accordingly on the basis of scientific research, historical and geographical traditions, she is preparing a new justification of its presence in the Arctic. So, in the foreign press widely commented that in July 2007, the Russian Ministry of natural resources announced the implementation of the investment project worth 50 million dollars on hydrographic and geophysical research in the Arctic ocean, which aims to prove Russia's right to possession of the additional part of the seabed in the Arctic.

Similar studies are underway and other Arctic countries. So, canadian scientists doing work on mapping the Arctic ocean floor. The importance of this activity can be judged by how widely the Canadians covered the visit of the head of its Foreign Ministry on the deployment of the first Autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Canada intended for unprecedented effective data collection about the configuration of the seabed. Political scientists note that the research scientists a distinctly strategic interests of Ottawa. Scientific discovery has quickly taken on political overtones.

This is not the first claim to the Lomonosov ridge: earlier, Denmark said that it claims on its underwater mountain range stretching from Greenland to Russia. Norway, the United States put forward its territorial claim to the Arctic lands. France submitted an application to the UN on extension of the continental plateau of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. The idea that France can expand its borders provoked an angry reaction in Ottawa.

The Arctic – a hot topic in political circles of Canada and through the Northwest passage, which is likely in the near future will be ice-free at least part of the year. According to ISN Security Watch, the Canadians claim that this route passes through the internal waters of Canada because it owns surrounding the passage Islands. And other countries, primarily the United States, claim it is international waters.


Chinese interest

Today for the Arctic region to observe not only the riparian countries of the Arctic ocean. The Stockholm international Institute of peace studies (SIPRI) has recently published a report which documented an increasing interest of Beijing to the far North. Huge resonance was caused by the statement of rear Admiral of the Chinese Navy retired Yin Zhuo in March 2010 during the Chinese people's political consultative conference: "the Arctic belongs to all people of the world, as no nation has sovereignty over it".

However China has long been no secret of its interest in this region.

According to the government website Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, the Chinese since 2004 use a research base in Norway, organized four Arctic expeditions. However, in the relations between China and Norway has been a marked cooling after located in Oslo, the Nobel Committee announced the awarding of the peace prize to the dissident Liu Taobao.

Denmark opens the door for Beijing's entry into the Arctic with diplomatic and investment sides, promising projects for the extraction of minerals in Greenland. Copenhagen made a strategic decision to prioritize its economic relationship with China, and now this country is turning into a key corridor for Chinese commercial and strategic penetration of the Northern polar region of Earth.

China currently only one functioning ice breaker "Snow Dragon", but in 2014 the system can be put another icebreaking vessel with a displacement of 8000 tons. They will be able to participate in the following three expeditions, planned for the period until 2015. It is expected that Chinese icebreakers are preparing for the wiring of vessels in the canadian and Russian routes in the Arctic ocean, when it will become more profitable.

The route West of Nuuk in West Greenland in the major Chinese port of Qingdao through the canadian part of the Arctic is shorter by about half way through the Panama canal, and the Eastern route through the Russian part of the Arctic ocean is less than two thirds of the way to Qingdao via the Cape of Good Hope.


The Northern sea route

Western media tries to represent the Russian Federation as a country unable from an environmental point of view it is safe to explore the Arctic and to control its territory and Maritime. Harping on the theme of "violation" of Russian business (mostly oil and gas, and transport lesozagotovok) the rights of non-nationhood of indigenous peoples of the North. In particular, Sara Wheeler, a well-known publicist, author of "the Magnetic North, or a trip to the Arctic," writes in the British newspaper the Independent, which Russia is seeking to expand the boundaries of the oil industry at the expense of one of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet, where ice, storms and darkness make cleaning almost impossible. The author points to the effects of oil spills on the tundra, which is not eliminated. Although, as was stated by the Russian side at the international forum "the Arctic: present and future", held in December 2012 in St. Petersburg, such work is carried out, for example, cleared area of Land Alexandra from waste activities of the Ministry of defense airbase "Nagurski".

Experts note that the geostrategic interest of many countries are associated with the melting of the glaciers new possibilities of navigation in the Arctic ocean. Now along the Russian coast is seasonal navigation in Japan, China and the far East via the shorter Northern sea route. According to scientists, ten years later, ships in the Arctic can swim during the whole summer season. This suggests that the role of Russia in the development of shipping in the Arctic is likely to increase. In this regard, recently in the media both in the West and the East have increasingly raised the question of turning the Northern sea route, control of which belongs to our country, in transit highway under transnational control.

Russian expedition "Arctic-2007" smashed the seemingly unbreakable anthill of history and permanently mixed all the cards. In this regard, in several publications foreign analysts concluded that today the world is engaged in a geostrategic game of the XXI century – the game around the Arctic, which a number of political scientists compare with the processes taking place in the second half of the twentieth century in the middle East.


Nikolai Volkov,
Arseniy Pronin


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