Author Topic: The New Race for the Arctic and Antarctica:  (Read 35710 times)

Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Re: The New Race for the Arctic and Antartica:
« Reply #51 on: May 19, 2019, 04:43:02 AM »
Good article for strategic defense aspects.  More snark than fact in the area of weather reporting.  Can't bring themselves to say human caused in front of climate change because that would be redundant, all climate change is human caused?

From the article:
"Oh, so why is the sea ice vanishing? Ha! Good question. Next?"

"The Arctic has warmed roughly twice as fast as the rest of the planet,"

No mention of the NOAA whistleblower witnessing a tampering of the exact data they cite.
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/5/climate-change-whistleblower-alleges-noaa-manipula/
 “insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximized warming and minimized documentation.”

Back to the article:
"Alaska, which “is warming faster than any other state.” It projected that climate change could eventually cost the state $270 million per year."

It defies logic and common sense to believe warming would be a net cost to Alaska, at the same time they announce new shipping lanes opening.  But if 14 Obama infiltrated agencies said it and The Atlantic reported it , it must be true, as certain as a roomful of Russian prostitutes peeing on a bed because Trump is racist.

"Pompeo even attacked their climate policies. “It isn’t clear that Russia is reducing emissions at all, despite being the largest emitter of black carbon in the entire Arctic,” he said. He attacked China for tripling its emissions since 2006. These would have been a much more powerful points if Pompeo had approved the Arctic Council statement in the first place."

   - Make sure I have this right.  The US is cutting it's emmisions, China is tripling theirs, Russia is spewing filth, and Trump being a hypocrite is the problem in this picture according to The Atlantic because he wouldn't sign an anti-US agreement.   

In a "Defense" article they criticize Trump for "repealing fuel efficiency standards" that caused the SUV craze and that the Obama administration levied on its successor, not his own economy.  If not for that, the Earth would be fine.

The Arctic is losing more ice "every summer", except in the periods where it is not:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2018/12/10/arctic-sea-ice-is-growing-faster-than-before-but-theres-a-catch/

“There is likely to be a nearly sea ice-free Arctic during the summer by midcentury,”

   - An update from their last prediction that was false.
https://nsidc.org/news/inthenews/arctic-ice-cap-grows-same-year-al-gore-predicted-it-would-disappear-networks-ignore
« Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 05:27:30 AM by DougMacG »



Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: What Russia Stands to Gain and Lose from Thawing Arctic
« Reply #54 on: August 12, 2019, 12:59:09 PM »
What Russia Stands to Gain, and Lose, From the Thawing Arctic
By Rodger Baker
Senior VP of Strategic Analysis, Stratfor

The Yamal, a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker, clears the way in the Kara Sea.
(SOVFOTO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Highlights

    Among the eight countries with territory inside the Arctic Circle, Russia currently sees the greatest economic benefits from its vast, resource-rich northern regions.
    In recent years, Russia has begun returning to Cold War-era levels of Arctic activity in order to seize the frozen energy reserves that the warming climate is helping bring to the surface.
    But Moscow's financial constraints, coupled with U.S. and European sanctions, will leave it dependent on China to build out the infrastructure needed to fully develop its northern frontier.
    As a result, Moscow will be placed in a complex situation in the coming years — balancing its national and economic security with its evolving relations with the United States and China.

Although the Arctic was a front line during the Cold War, the harsh climate and limited transit options also made it a relatively secure frontier in the post-Cold War era. And as a result, Russia's Arctic infrastructure and activity — particularly in the security realm — waned considerably as the country's priorities shifted elsewhere. But this has been changing in recent years, as the sea ice that has long barricaded Russia from the rest of the world begins to open up. Russian shipping in the Arctic recently reached levels not seen since the late 1980s, with Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighting Arctic shipping along the Northern Sea Route as a key development project for the country.

Moscow's renewed Arctic push, however, is less about allowing more transit through Arctic waters, but about exploiting mineral and energy reserves that will become more accessible as the climate shifts and technology advances. Upon its return to the Arctic, however, Russia will be forced to maneuver a landscape that has changed drastically since the Cold War — one where "near-Arctic" China is advancing its own interests, and where the United States is revisiting its Arctic security concerns. As a result, the gains from new extraction opportunities could turn into long-term security vulnerabilities for Russia, should its need for financial support end up handing Beijing an even clearer geopolitical advantage.

The Big Picture

Covered in snow and ice, the Arctic has long been a place borne of idealized adventure — home to undiscovered resources and new potential trade routes. Over the past several decades, both the Arctic and its southern counterpart Antarctica has also become a focal point for environmental awareness, a fragile ecosystem threatened by oil exploration and climate change. With changing sea ice patterns and China's recent emergence onto the scene, many of the geopolitical issues surrounding the Arctic are also moving back to the fore, though this time with new players and thus new complications.
See Russia's Internal StruggleSee China in Transition
Opportunities Beneath the Ice

Following the Cold War, the Arctic seemed to slip back into its older position as a distant frontier to test the limits of technology and human endurance — and for many Arctic nations, it has remained a place of secondary importance at best. For Russia, however, the region's strategic significance never really waned. Moscow's Arctic territories — which comprises more than half of all Arctic coastline on Earth — still contribute some 15 percent of national gross domestic product (GDP), driven primarily by resource extraction. Some 40 percent of Canada’s landmass, for example, is considered "Arctic" (as defined by the government). But Canada’s three Arctic territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut), by contrast, comprise a mere half-percent of Canada’s total GDP.

Much of Moscow's mineral and energy resources in the Arctic remain untapped, buried in challenging terrain and environments in far-off locations. But changing climate patterns and advancements in technology are beginning to revive energy and mineral exploration in the region. Today, the core economic activity in the Russian Arctic takes place in the western half of the territory.

The Russian company Norilsk Nickel — the world's leading producer of palladium as well as a major producer of platinum — has its mining and smelting operations centered on both the Kola Peninsula (which is located along the Barents Sea, roughly 200 miles east of northern Finland), as well as near Dudinka on the Yenisei River (which empties into the Kara Sea).
A map showing Russian Northern Sea Route ports.

In addition to mineral resources, some of Russia’s largest emerging natural gas projects are located on the Yamal Peninsula. This includes the Yamal liquified natural gas (LNG) project, which is jointly owned by Novatek, Total, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and the Silk Road Fund. The Yamal project has an annual capacity of 16.5 million metric tons of LNG, and is serviced by ice-hardened LNG tankers that can traverse the Northern Sea Route (NSR) along the Russian Arctic coast, operating in ice more than a meter thick without the assistance of icebreakers. Near the Yamal plant also lies Russia’s Arctic 2 LNG project, situated just across the mouth of the Ob River.

The Future of Transit on the Russian Arctic

With the melting ice, there has been heightened international attention around how Arctic shipping routes can provide a shortcut between Europe and Asia. And indeed, by taking the NSR, it takes roughly 15 days to deliver gas from the Yamal LNG project to China, compared with the 30 days it would take by going southwest (which requires looping around Europe and coming back through the Suez Canal).

But just like the Northwest Passage through Canada never panned out as a reliable and cost-effective shortcut between Europe and Asia, Russia's Northern Sea Route remains seasonal at best. Viable operations through the Arctic waters still require specialized ships, and Russian regulations (as well as seasonal variations in ice patterns) often require the added use of icebreakers. And even those vessels can only reliably operate in warmer months — limiting the commercial viability of projects in the area. And while the receding ice is gradually making the territory more manageable, it will still be many years before the promise of decreased shipping times will outweigh the upfront costs needed to transit through its still largely frozen waters. 

Thus, as energy and mineral reserves become increasingly accessible, the main use of Russian arctic waters for the foreseeable future will remain what's known as "destination shipping" — that is, focused solely on bringing Russian commodities out to the market, or to bring foreign and domestic goods and services into the Russian Arctic. Of the 1,908 ship voyages that traveled within the NSR in 2017, for example, only 27 were full transits between Asia and Europe, or between further-flung Russian ports outside the NSR; the rest traveled between ports within the NSR, or were destination shipping.
A graphic showing Russian Northern Sea Route traffic in 2017.

That said, the increased use of the NSR for destination shipping still requires the same investment in communications, navigational aids, and response and rescue capabilities, which could pave the way for more transit traffic in the future. But for now, high-profile complete transits across the NSR — however infrequent — will likely serve as a way to attract additional external investment in the infrastructure, which it needs to both develop the necessary shipping infrastructure and capitalize on the expanded energy and mineral extraction from the region.

China's Encroaching Presence

But this need for foreign revenue streams will also place Russia in a tricky situation with its nominal partner China, which is becoming an increasingly active player in the region. Despite many areas of common interest, Russian-Chinese relations remain framed by suspicion. In the modern era, the balance between the two neighbors has shifted dramatically. Not only is China no longer the second-tier power, but it has far surpassed Russia economically and is also, in certain aspects, on its way to surpassing Moscow politically and militarily.

But to continue to build out its Arctic capabilities and seize economic opportunities, Moscow also needs significant foreign investment and access to expanding consumer markets. And China's massive appetite for resources and its relatively large pocketbook provide both a market and the capital to do just that. But for Russia, this also comes at the risk of becoming overreliant on China, and further tilting the relationship in Beijing's favor — something Moscow will try to avoid.

Russia has thus sought to balance Chinese investment in Arctic LNG projects with European and Japanese firms, though this has been challenging given the ongoing sanctions regime. Moscow has also begrudgingly allowed China to partner in its infrastructure development along the NSR, but primarily to tie China into Russia’s plans, rather than allow China to build capacity to bypass Russian territory and transit fees.

The U.S.'s Return to the Arctic

Meanwhile, Russia's revived presence in the region — combined with China's growing activity — has also reawakened its other geopolitical rival, the United States, to the strategic importance of the Arctic frontier. The U.S. Arctic state of Alaska makes more than 18 percent of the United States' total landmass, but it only represents less than a third of a percent of national GDP. However, for Washington, the Arctic's importance lies less in its economic value and more in its strategic location as the link between North America, Asia and Europe. As was the case during the Cold War (and continuing today), the Arctic remains the shortest route between the United States and its northern-hemisphere challengers for missiles (whether land-based or sea-based) and aviation. The U.S. Arctic is thus the centerpiece of U.S. national missile defense, and will soon host the largest concentration of U.S. fifth-generation military aircraft anywhere in the world.

A map showing minimum Arctic sea ice extent and modeled future extent by year.

But the melting sea ice has opened the way for increased surface traffic into the Arctic, adding a layer of complexity to the defensive frontier for both the United States and Russia. Both Moscow and Washington have resource constraints on their renewed Arctic focus. But as the physical and political environments change, each is reassessing its need and capacity to operate in and provide security over the Arctic. China’s growing activity has, perhaps unexpectedly, also provided at least one area of U.S.-Russian agreement — that is, the desire to keep Arctic governance within the hands of the eight Arctic nations, and to not allow the internationalization of the region (which is something China seeks).

Great Power Games Head North

But while both the United States and Russia see the strategic significance of the region, for Moscow, the economic component serves as an added compulsion for action. And for this reason, Russian activities in the Arctic will continue to prioritize further resource exploitation to strengthen the Russian economy, while rebuilding a robust strategic defense capability along the Arctic frontier. Moscow is already re-establishing front-line military bases in the region, deploying additional missile and anti-missile assets and aircraft to the Arctic.

The idea of the Russian Arctic becoming a mass maritime highway, meanwhile, remains far-off due to technological, economic and climate constraints. But transit prospects will also largely depend on whether Russia feels a maritime bridge between Europe and Asia would provide it with enough leverage and strength to outweigh the potential exposure along its last secure frontier. In the meantime, resource extraction projects in the Russian Arctic will continue to make up the bulk of shipping along the NSR. But as Russia continues its Arctic redevelopment with the help of Chinese funding, tensions between the three great powers in the vast frontier will undoubtedly grow more pronounced.

Editor's note: This column has been amended to clarify the locations of Russian energy and mineral projects in the Arctic.
As Stratfor's senior analyst, Rodger Baker leads the firm's strategic thinking on global issues and guides the company's analytical process. He is a leading expert on North Korea, U.S.-China relations and the integration of geopolitics and intelligence analysis for business applications.

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Arctic -- Canada and America
« Reply #55 on: August 13, 2019, 11:47:21 AM »
The Melting Arctic Heats Up the Question of Who Governs the Northwest Passage
By Philip Leech-Ngo
Board of Contributors
Philip Leech-Ngo
Philip Leech-Ngo
Board of Contributors
A project manager for the Arctic Research Foundation on April 9, 2015, walks past snowmobiles used by Canadian troops deployed to the territory of Nunavut to demonstrate Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.
(PAUL WATSON/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Contributor Perspectives offer insight, analysis and commentary from Stratfor’s Board of Contributors and guest contributors who are distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise.


Highlights

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently seemed to ratchet up an old dispute between the United States and Canada over sovereignty and the Northwest Passage.
    The United States rejects Canada's claim that the Northwest Passage is an internal waterway, holding instead that the passage is an international waterway that should not be subject to Canadian jurisdiction.
    In 1988, the United States and Canada agreed to find a pragmatic solution to governing the Northwest Passage. But 30 years ago, the far-north shipping lane was largely an academic matter; not so today.
    Ultimately, U.S. concerns about Russian and Chinese ambitions in the Arctic will prove greater than worries about Canadian sovereignty claims, and Washington and Ottawa will maintain the useful compromise of the 1980s to protect their intertwined interests.

The existing U.S.-Canadian compromise agreement over Arctic sovereignty serves both countries' best geopolitical interests. Thus, in a rapidly changing climate, it is likely that recent U.S. attacks on Canadian claims of sovereignty in the far north are intended to remind Ottawa that the status quo depends on Washington's goodwill.

Speaking at a meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland in May, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo surprised many of his fellow delegates with an apparently unprompted attack on Canada's claims to sovereignty over the Northwest Passage (NWP), a maritime route joining the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans along the northern coast of North America.

While at first glance Pompeo's words are in line with a general commitment by the United States to freedom of navigation all over the world, the bluntness of his statement seemed to represent an unprovoked reopening of a decades-old dispute between two close allies. It is unlikely the United States seriously wants to relitigate the status quo. Rather, because the existing arrangement — based on a mutual understanding between friendly neighbors rather than on international law — allows both Canada and the United States to meet their primary geopolitical concerns, Pompeo's assertion should be best understood as a means of reminding Ottawa that it depends on U.S. consent to maintain the current compromise.

The Northwest Passage

While Inuit peoples have inhabited and navigated the territories of northern Canada for centuries, modern Western attempts to navigate through the Canadian archipelago began in the mid-19th century. These were spurred by European ambitions to find a trading route to Asia that would be shorter than the existing two options at the time: traversing the Suez Canal (after it opened in 1869) or circumnavigating the southern tip of Chile. (The Panama Canal did not open until 1914.)

Following several failed efforts to sail across the Arctic Ocean — including the disastrous Franklin Expedition of 1845 and the McClure Expedition of 1850, which fully charted the NWP — Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen finally navigated a route between 1903 and 1906 that ran from Baffin Bay, between Greenland and what is now Nunavut, to Alaska and then down the West Coast to San Francisco. While several ships have managed to replicate Amundsen's voyage in decades since, the high level of risk and expense involved have prevented the NWP from being considered a serious alternative to more traditional trade routes, at least until recently.

As a result, for most of the past century, the issue of who governs the NWP was relegated to a somewhat abstract dispute between two of the world's closest allies. In 1946 the Canadian ambassador to the United States, Lester Pearson, asserted that the NWP falls within legitimate Canadian claims to sovereignty over territory all the way to the North Pole. However, Ottawa's official position remained hazy until an American tanker, the SS Manhattan, entered the NWP without Canadian permission in 1969. Fearing that it might lose control of the route, Ottawa clarified its position that the NWP is an internal Canadian waterway and tightened a range of regulations. While the SS Manhattan and its parent company would comply with Canadian demands during its subsequent voyage in 1970, the U.S. government rejected Canada's claims over the NWP.

As the dispute continued in the early 1980s, it would be impacted by the conclusion of the third round of negotiations over the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) in 1982. The agreement — which came into force in 1994, but is still not ratified by the United States — outlined some significant clarifications on what defines internal, territorial and archipelagic waters. It also codified relatively recently established norms such as the link between states' claims to exclusive economic zones and the extension of the continental shelf on which they rest.

However, while UNCLOS III established a common legal language over maritime sovereignty, it did little to settle the dispute. Canada continued to legislate over the NWP throughout the 1980s and began highlighting Article 243 of UNCLOS III — which ostensibly grants Arctic-bordering nations broad regulatory powers — as the legal basis for doing so. Meanwhile, most other states, including the United States, would contend that the NWP represents an international waterway and should not be subject to Canadian jurisdiction.

The Arctic Cooperation Agreement allowed both the United States and Canada to save face while effectively ensuring that North America's continental perimeter remained secure.

However, after another diplomatic incident in 1985 — when a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker traversed the NWP without Canadian permission (though it did submit to a Canadian inspection) — the governments of U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney signed the Arctic Cooperation Agreement in early 1988. The purpose of this agreement was to sideline any legal complications and instead find a pragmatic solution to governing the NWP. Thus, the U.S. government accepted Canadian demands that U.S. icebreakers would require permission from the Canadian government before entering the NWP, albeit without formally altering the U.S. stance on the legal status of the waters.

This compromise agreement, therefore, allowed both sides to save face while effectively ensuring that North America's continental perimeter remained secure. Moreover, though tensions with the United States in the Arctic briefly remerged as an issue of concern for Ottawa in 2005, when U.S. Navy submarines entered the NWP without Canadian permission, the compromise held into the new century even as Canada began reasserting its claims through polar patrols that combine both military assets with local and indigenous volunteers.

Changing Climates

Perhaps the major reason why the NWP has never become a serious international flashpoint is that, until recently, the promise of its utility as a shipping lane had far outweighed the practical reality. While a northern route joining the Atlantic and Pacific oceans would cut shipping distances by thousands of kilometers, equating to potentially millions of dollars' worth of savings for transit companies, layers of thick Arctic ice blocking the way have made such a route impractical at best.

However, the effects of global climate change — which are more extreme in the Arctic than just about anywhere else on the planet — have changed these conditions. Indeed, according to scientific data gathered since the 1970s, annual average temperatures have increased at twice the rate in the far north as the rest of the world. This has already led to changes in ocean circulation patterns, animal and human lifestyles, and significant melting of the permafrost. Should current trends persist, by 2030 it is likely that there will be a summer without ice in the Arctic. But even before then, ice thickness in the NWP has diminished significantly, meaning that it may be much more accessible to ships with modern ice-breaking technology.

Of course, scientific consensus holds that the impact of a melting Arctic is likely to be devastating to local communities, the indigenous Inuit way of life and eventually catastrophic on a planetary scale. But even in the shadow of this widely accepted reality, the NWP has become the site of a new geopolitical game that includes states far beyond the traditional U.S.-Canada axis.

Resources and Geopolitics

The retreating sea ice not only makes the possibility of using the NWP for shipping more likely, but it also opens potential opportunities to exploit a myriad of natural resources, including hydrocarbons and other commodities. The United States, like any state, would much prefer direct access to these resources for its own industries, unencumbered by complications like sovereignty claims by other countries, even if such claims come from a friend like Canada.

However, the United States and Canada are not the only states that see the NWP as strategically interesting. Russia has a vested interest in avoiding the setting of any new precedents in the NWP lest they become a basis for challenging the Russian dominance over the Northeast Passage (a similar Arctic Ocean route that runs north of the Eurasian continent). The Europeans tend to take an internationalist view of the NWP, which is unsurprising given the potential reduction in import costs from Asia and the opportunities for European-based shipping conglomerates such as Maersk (which has already sent a trial shipment through the NWP in August 2018).

While the United States may be interested, in the short term, in jostling with Canadian sovereignty claims, its apparent long-term geopolitical interests remain intertwined with Canada's.

However, by far the most important new actor in the region is China. Despite being nearly 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, Beijing has set its sights on the far north. Indeed, though China has developed its interest in the Arctic throughout the early years of this century, its level of interest has peaked recently. In January 2018, China adopted the designation of a "near-Arctic state," demonstrating that it sees itself as a major stakeholder. Moreover, a government white paper published at the same time highlights plans for China to develop a "polar Silk Road" through developing the Arctic shipping routes and constructing an array of infrastructure.

Beijing's ambitions have not escaped Washington's notice. As Pompeo identified in his Finland speech in May, "Chinese activity … continues to concern us in the Arctic." This then highlights the United States' second primary concern: the exclusion of access to untrusted foreign actors. Indeed, for decades, the Canadian and U.S. governments have agreed on the basic principle that their mutual defense is of common concern. Thus, while the United States may be interested, in the short term, in jostling with Canadian sovereignty claims, perhaps to strengthen its hand in any potential dispute over resources, its apparent long-term geopolitical interests — particularly the defense of the North American continent — remain intertwined with Ottawa's.

As U.S. President John Kennedy told the Canadian Parliament in 1961, "Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those who nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder." In the Arctic that "natural" and "necessary" relationship effectively manifested itself through a useful compromise in the 1988 agreement, allowing both sides to claim a different interpretation of sovereignty, while in practice working together to ensure their mutual defense. Even as the Arctic ice melts, it is most likely that this compromise will endure.



Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Re: US-Canada-Norway-Denmark-Sweden alliance
« Reply #60 on: March 08, 2020, 10:49:59 AM »
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/3/pentagon-pressed-on-russian-chinese-push-in-arctic/

"Russia has 38 active icebreakers, including 10 capable of breaking through ice up to six feet thick. China recently commissioned several new icebreakers and announced plans for a nuclear-powered heavy icebreaking ship as part of its polar ambitions."

   - The Obama administration tried to out-smart them by just waiting for the ice to melt.  I guess the Russians and Chinese aren't stealing all of our 'science'.

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GPF: Russia's Arctic Ambitions
« Reply #62 on: July 07, 2020, 10:49:13 AM »
July 7, 2020   View On Website
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    Russia’s Arctic Ambitions
Moscow's security efforts have historically focused on its western front, but it's increasingly concerned about the east.
By: Ekaterina Zolotova

The Russian government is reigniting its push into the Arctic. Despite the challenging global economic environment, the Kremlin plans to build at least five new icebreakers, which, according to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, will be used to further develop the Northern Sea Route across Russia’s Arctic coast. On Monday, Russia announced that it had started construction on the Leader project, the world’s most powerful nuclear-powered icebreaker, at the Zvezda shipyard in the Far East region. According to the government, the project is worth the expense because it will help make the Northern Sea Route accessible year-round and tap into the growing interest in the new transit corridor between Europe and Asia. But the Kremlin’s own interest in the Arctic is not only a result of the potential economic benefits; it’s also a matter of securing Russia’s eastern borders.

The Eastern Front

Russia has long concentrated its security efforts on its western front. The main threats to Russia's territorial integrity have historically emanated from there, and so it has spent considerable time and resources building up its Baltic and Black Sea fleets. But Moscow is increasingly focusing on its eastern frontier, which is facing growing threats from several sources, some of which are building up their own naval capabilities. Japan, the United States (through the Bering Strait) and China are all neighbors of this region, and though it’s unlikely that any of these countries would initiate military action against Russia’s east, Moscow is taking no chances, initiating steps to increase the fleet’s combat effectiveness in order to guarantee that no nation can block its access to the Pacific. It also faces internal threats. This is a massive and remote region with poor infrastructure, making it potentially difficult to control. Maintaining the unity of such a vast territory requires a strong military.

Russia has thus been beefing up its military presence in this region by developing the Pacific Fleet’s technical base and boosting its combat effectiveness. The fleet currently has 58 surface ships and 20 submarines, including strategic missile submarines and multipurpose nuclear and diesel submarines. It also has marine missiles, anti-submarine and fighter aircraft, and coastal troops. In fact, the Pacific Fleet is the second-largest and most efficient of Russia’s fleets and has a wide range of tasks, including protecting Russia’s exclusive economic zone and ensuring access through these waters for commercial and military vessels. Its operational area, which includes the Arctic, Southern Hemisphere, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, is the largest of all of Russia’s fleets.
 
(click to enlarge)

To maintain its combat effectiveness, the Pacific Fleet needs to be constantly modernized and supplied with up-to-date equipment. But this requires large investments as well as complex logistics and fleet support. The Pacific Fleet’s main weakness is its remoteness; it’s poorly connected to Russia’s center as well as the country’s other fleets and flotillas. This is due to the fact that roads and infrastructure in this part of the country are poor – there are only three railways connecting the Far East to the center of the country, for example. There are several railway projects under construction, but they won’t be ready until 2030. The region’s complex terrain, consisting mostly of uplands, makes road and infrastructure development difficult. So Russia is now turning to an alternative path to connect the Pacific Fleet with the rest of the country: the Northern Sea Route.
 
(click to enlarge)

Icebreaker Revamp

Russia's long-term strategy is to turn the Northern Sea Route into a transport corridor that would be accessible year-round from Murmansk to Vladivostok, the location of the Pacific Fleet’s main headquarters. But even taking into account the effects of global warming, it’s unlikely that the ice in this area of the Arctic will melt enough in the next 10-20 years to make these waters traversable for commercial or military vessels. This means that the future of the Pacific Fleet depends primarily on how quickly and efficiently the Kremlin can create a unified network that connects the fleet’s infrastructure with the center. Considering the thickness of the ice in this region, which can exceed 2 meters (6.5 feet), it’s hard to imagine that this would be possible without a modern icebreaker fleet.

Russia proudly says that it is the only country that has a nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet: two 75,000-horsepower twin-reactor icebreakers called Yamal and 50 Years of Victory, and two 50,000-hp single-reactor icebreakers called Taimyr and Vaigach. It also has the Sevmorput nuclear-powered container ship with 40,000 hp capacity.

The fleet is in need of a revamp, however. Three of the four nuclear-powered icebreakers will be decommissioned by 2030, with the fourth going out of service in 2035. Russia is therefore planning to build new icebreakers. Rosatomflot, which operates the four aforementioned ones, will receive three new icebreakers (the Arctica, Siberia and Ural) as part of Project 22220. Arctica reached the final stage of sea trials in late June. Two additional nuclear-powered icebreakers are planned at a cost of 100 billion rubles ($1.4 billion).

In addition, the government approved in January the construction budget, totaling 127.5 billion rubles, of the Leader nuclear-powered icebreaker. This vessel can break up to 4.3 meters of ice and operate year-round. Moscow plans to have three Leader-type icebreakers operational by 2033. By 2035, the Kremlin plans to have at least 13 operational heavy-duty icebreakers, nine of which will be nuclear.

Financing

Though the total cost of all these projects is unknown, they definitely won’t be cheap. Nuclear-powered icebreakers – as well as the ports, roads and other infrastructure needed to operate them – are extremely expensive to build. The Kremlin is the main financier of these Arctic projects, but considering the collapse of oil prices and the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the federal budget is extremely tight.

The Kremlin is thus looking for other ways to finance construction of the new icebreakers. It has unveiled a new strategy to develop the Arctic zone until 2035 that will include attracting investment and creating jobs. It wants to build an Arctic trade route for international shipping – a project that has been a priority for President Vladimir Putin since he introduced the idea in 2018. Putin believes the cargo turnover of the Northern Sea Route can reach 80 million tons by 2024, a highly ambitious goal considering that turnover was 10.7 million tons in 2017, 20.2 million in 2018, and 31.5 million in 2019. Putin’s goal could be achieved only through large investments and expanding the borders of the Northern Sea Route to include the Barents, White, Pechora, Bering and Okhotsk seas. In the short term, Moscow wants to increase investment interest in the route, which means providing incentives, developing trade and creating a favorable business environment. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology generally supports the liberalization of access to the Arctic shelf. On June 23, the State Duma passed a bill in the second reading that would create a special regime for businesses operating in the Arctic, including tax benefits, a register of participants and a free customs zone.

Russia’s long-term goal to develop the Northern Sea Route and build nuclear icebreakers is extremely costly. But given the need to secure the eastern frontier, Russia will continue to invest millions in the Arctic, despite the challenging economic times, even if it means running a deficit. It believes that bridging the gap between the Pacific and the rest of the country is worth the cost, and hopes that it will pay off financially in the future.   




Crafty_Dog

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Re: The New Race for the Arctic and Antartica:
« Reply #63 on: July 24, 2020, 10:42:25 AM »
Remapping the American Arctic
Rodger Baker
Rodger Baker
Senior VP of Strategic Analysis, Stratfor
8 MINS READ
Jul 24, 2020 | 15:53 GMT

Maps play an important role in shaping national policy, and in shaping society’s consciousness and support. But they can also reinforce ideas of relative unimportance by leaving key areas off, or having areas appear as mere incidental inclusions, which can subconsciously constrain developments in foreign policy. Indeed, it is perhaps no surprise that many Americans still fail to recognize the United States as an Arctic nation when the majority of U.S. maps place Alaska in a small inset box, relegating it to a secondary geographic status despite Alaska’s critical role in U.S. national security, from missile defense to the interception of Russian strategic bombers.

Alaska’s Second-Class Map Status

Thanks to Alaska, the United States is one of eight nations in the world with territory within the Arctic Circle. But in its latest poll of American attitudes toward the Arctic, the Arctic Studio noted that nearly half of respondents expressed strong disagreement with the statement “The United States is an Arctic nation.”


The failure to appreciate America’s fourth coast may help explain Washington’s late awakening to the changing strategic dynamics in the Arctic. The U.S. government has issued several Arctic policy papers, as have various departments and military branches, but there has been little coordinated action. Only in recent years has the United States approved the construction or acquisition of new icebreakers (the United States currently has only two such ships in its fleet, one rarely in operation and the other often deployed to the Antarctic), or prioritized establishing an Arctic deepwater port for Coast Guard and Naval operations. The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) also calls for the creation of a Department of Defense center for Arctic security studies.

But despite some progress, it is clear that Americans still struggle with the concept of an American Arctic, or of the significance of the Arctic for U.S. national security. In the same aforementioned poll conducted by the Arctic Studio, a higher percentage of Americans agreed the United States has “broad and fundamental interests” in the Middle East than in the Arctic. This may, in part, reflect flagging geographic education in the United States, as well as a dogged persistence of a horizontal Mercator map mindset.

The Weakness of Maps: Inaccurate Perceptions

Maps have long been tools of statecraft and national cohesion. They depict the connection between people and place, assert sovereignty, and portray messages of progress, opportunity and risk. The recognition of a "sea to shining sea" America drove U.S. involvement in Central America, highlighting the significance of the isthmus of Panama. World War II, with its far-flung battles on coral atolls in the Pacific, drove an increase in U.S. geographic literacy, and maps were frequently utilized to explain and gain support for U.S. sacrifices far from American shores.

But maps are also flawed. By their very nature, flat maps are an inaccurate representation of the round earth. Cartographers work to ease these inaccuracies, but each adjustment to fit one metric (comparative size or distance, for example) creates a distortion in another. Political intent adds another layer to mapmaking. If maps represent narratives, those narratives are shaped by political and social context. Even the choice of colors, scale or features reflects tradeoffs that highlight certain priorities and downplay others.

So long as the American Arctic is considered something distant and separate from the United States, it risks being subconsciously sidelined in the national narrative, as well as U.S. foreign policy.

The fallibility of maps, however, does not negate their usefulness. Many of the core choices made in mapmaking are shaped by the intended purpose — are they for maritime or aviation navigation, are they to highlight comparable size and area of global geography, or are they for understanding political divisions? The smaller the area a map covers, the more fidelity to relative size and distance that can be preserved. With world maps, it is always a trade-off. The Mercator projection distorts the size of the northern latitudes, and its ever-present image has shaped perceptions of relative scale and location. The penchant for horizontal maps further limits ways of thinking about a round earth.

The Strength of Maps: Framing the National Narrative

I have several maps in my collection that highlight clear political choices to shape national perceptions. Two maps of the Korean peninsula, one made in South Korea, the other in North Korea, both show the underlying provincial structure of a unified single Korea. The South Korean map, however, is fairly clear in showing where South Korean sovereignty ends and North Korean sovereignty begins. The North Korean map chooses not to show the divisions of split provinces that cross the demilitarized zone. But more interesting is the way the two maps showcase both countries' claims to Dokdo, a disputed islet with Japan. Dokdo is so small, it essentially disappears unless you are looking for it. But on the South Korean-made map, the frame is extended far enough east to ensure Dokdo is inside the boundary of the map. The North Korean-made map, by contrast, has a thick border, and it cuts out a chunk of that border to ensure Dokdo fits on the map. Rather than being a small speck far off from the mainland area, this breaking of the frame draws attention to Dokdo, and thus to the sovereignty claim.


China has also been rather intentional in its efforts to use maps to change both the national narrative and international perceptions. In 2014, China debuted a new vertical map of China for national use. China’s traditional horizontal map always had a cut-out box in the lower corner showcasing its maritime claims in the South China Sea, similar to the boxes on U.S. maps for Alaska and Hawaii (and at times Puerto Rico). China’s vertical map resolved that issue by ensuring that the South China Sea region was contiguous.

By tilting China and extending the map further south, there is no longer a break between continental China and its maritime claims. While I do not have empirical survey data for China, it is not unlikely that this shift in mapping aided domestic acceptance and even support for China’s assertion of its territorial claims and its strong resistance to U.S. maritime action in the Western Pacific. The map reinforced the idea that China was not merely a continental power, but also a maritime power.

A New View of the American Arctic

Map changes do not immediately lead to perspective changes. But they can contribute to a national narrative and reinforce the significance of certain geographies to both the general public, as well as decision-makers. In Alaska, there are two common maps clearly designed to reclaim the sense of Alaska’s place in the American sphere. One shows the state of Alaska and its island chains stretched across the continental United States, reaching from California to Florida. The other shows Alaska as the main map, with two small inset boxes for Hawaii and the entire lower 48. Each tries to draw the viewer to geographic or political realities. The former regarding the sheer scale of Alaska, the latter the frequent ignoring of the state in the national psyche.


With the changing dynamics in the Arctic, it may be time to consider a new map of the United States, one that highlights all four coasts in a single image, and thus reveals their relationship to national security and identity. In building from the Chinese example, a vertical map could include the Far North, potentially excluding only Hawaii due to its distance. One particular projection is used several times in D.W. Meinig’s series, The Shaping of America; A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History. This map doesn’t show the United States in the context of the rest of the world, and it gives a bit of a jarring twist to common perceptions as it moves into the northern latitudes. Nonetheless, the map highlights very clearly a United States with four coasts, and the connections between the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean with the Atlantic, and between the Arctic and the Pacific. For both the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean and the Arctic, it also showcases their unique vulnerabilities and their potential contribution to U.S. national security. Similar maps, as the one displayed above, can help Americans reenvision the continental and four-coastal nature of the United States.

While a map by itself does not change the way a nation sees itself, or the way it prioritizes its interests and resources, it can serve to reorient perceptions and open new ways of thinking about place. The United States is an Arctic nation. It maintains a strong interest in a secure and stable Arctic, for its Alaska citizens, for economic reasons, and for core national security. So long as the American Arctic is considered something distant and separate from the United States, it risks being sidelined in the national narrative, and thus sidelined in national priorities and attention. The United States is already playing catch-up in the Arctic amid climate changes, Russian development and Chinese involvement. Remapping the Arctic to place it clearly as a fourth American coast may help shift the dialogue, and reinvigorate America’s recognition of its northern frontier.

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GPF: Russia's Emerging Arctic Maritime Frontier
« Reply #64 on: September 18, 2020, 06:42:25 AM »
Russia's Emerging Arctic Maritime Frontier
Rodger Baker
Rodger Baker
Senior VP of Strategic Analysis, Stratfor
9 MINS READ
Sep 15, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The Magadan icebreaker in the Bay Nagayeva, Sea of Okhotsk, in March 2019.
The Magadan icebreaker in the Bay Nagayeva, Sea of Okhotsk, in March 2019.

(Anton Afanasev/SHUTTERSTOCK)
HIGHLIGHTS
The thawing Russian Arctic is both a strategic opportunity and challenge, one that may fundamentally reshape Russia's foreign relations....

"Because of the inadequacy of the Arctic Coast as an outlet to the ocean, the great heartland can find access to the sea only by routes that cross the encircling mountain barrier and the border zone beyond."
Nicholas J. Spykman, America's Strategy in World Politics (1942)
Russia's surge of Arctic activity reflects the economic significance of the region and the impact of shifting climate patterns that now offer the prospect of an extended Russia maritime frontier. Russia has rebuilt and expanded its Cold War-era security architecture along its Arctic frontier, significantly increased natural gas production from its operations on the Yamal Peninsula, and laid out a 15-year plan to improve land-, air- and sea-based infrastructure connecting the Northern Sea Route to northern Russia and farther south. The thawing Russian coastline is both a strategic opportunity and challenge, one that may fundamentally reshape Russia's relations with its European and Asian neighbors, and with the United States.

Enclosed Geography

One of the core tenets of geopolitics is the significance of geography in setting the stage for foreign and domestic policy. As American geopolitician Nicholas Spykman noted in his 1942 America's Strategy in World Politics, "Geography is the most fundamental factor in the foreign policy of states because it is the most permanent." Geography's importance is often altered by technology, from canals and railroads to new critical minerals or changing energy sources. But rarely does geography itself change enough to alter the constraints and compulsions on states, at least not in a short time frame or outside localized events or disasters. The warming of the Arctic, however, is changing the core realities of Russia's geography, and it is happening at a pace that allows and compels a Russian response.

A key characteristic of geography that has shaped Russia over the centuries has been its lack of riverine connectivity. Unlike Europe or the United States, Russia's rivers rarely served to link agricultural zones and population centers, or connect the interior to the coasts. Rather, the major river drainage systems empty into the landlocked Caspian; into the constrained Black and Baltic seas; and most of all, into the iced-over Arctic Ocean. This constraint also offered a measure of security: Russia historically has proven incredibly resilient to invasion, particularly by sea. This river drainage system was one of the primary characteristics of Russia that led British geographer Sir Halford Mackinder initially to identify the Russian region as the geographical pivot of history, and later to identify it as the Eurasian heartland.

A map showing Russia's rivers and population density.
Russia's rivers and population density.

Russia long sought to break out of its continental heartland, pushing for sea access on the Pacific, seeking to expand its frontiers in the Baltic, and pressing south toward India and the Middle East (the latter being the subject of the so-called Great Game between Britain and Russia.) The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 made the weakness of Russia's limited maritime access manifest. Japan defeated the Russian Pacific fleet based in northern China, and it took Russia's Baltic Fleet — unable to reach East Asia via the Arctic Sea — some seven months to sail around the world only to meet defeat in the Tsushima Strait.

Arctic Opportunities

That inaccessibility is changing rapidly. Coastal navigation along the Northern Sea Route now starts earlier in the year, lasts longer and is even reaching the point that several passages have little need for icebreakers. Moscow's response has been to increase investment in both resource extraction and infrastructure development and to rebuild its Cold-War era military positions along the Arctic coast, updating with new equipment and technology. This year, Moscow established a special security council commission on the Arctic, and Russia produced a 15-year plan for Arctic development.

A map showing Russia's Northern Sea Route Ports

Russia has some 24,000 kilometers of Arctic coastline, compared to less than 20,000 kilometers of total U.S. oceanic coastline. The Russian Arctic accounts for more than 10 percent of national GDP, some 90 percent of Russian natural gas production and is a major contributor of strategic minerals, including nickel and palladium. An early sign of the potential future value of Russian Arctic ports came in the early years of World War II, when the allies supplied Russia through Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. The rest of the Northern Sea Route, however, remained unusable, and played little role in Russia's support of anti-Japanese fighters in the Far East, nor in the final days of the war when Russia declared war on Japan.

Today's changing climate is allowing not only greater access to the Russian Arctic frontier, but more reliable transportation of key commodities out of the Arctic. Already, Russian LNG from the Arctic has shipped to as far away as India, and this year saw the first tanker shipment of Russian Arctic oil to China. Russia has plans to develop large ports at each end of the Northern Sea Route for both containers and commodities, allowing ice-class vessels to move more frequently within Arctic waters and shifting cargos to traditional vessels for the rest of the journey to Europe or Asia.

China has shown strong interest in using the Russian Arctic seaways, and has been a major funder and consumer of Russian Arctic natural gas production. Japan and South Korea have also shown interest in the Northern Sea Route and Russian resources, and Russian and Finnish companies are cooperating on a possible undersea fiber cable through the Russian Arctic connecting Northern Europe to Japan. An opening Arctic provides opportunities for resource extraction, transportation and communications connectivity, and provides Russia with a shorter maritime route between its east and west coasts, the Northern Sea Route serving in that sense as a greatly extended Panama Canal.

Arctic Challenges

This international interest may also prove a challenge to Russia. China is funding Russian Arctic resource extraction, but it is also carrying out its own energy exploration in Arctic waters, and is exploring ways to bypass the Northern Sea Route, or at least the requirements Russia puts on its use. China's reach into the Arctic matches a push through Central Asia and one through the Indian Ocean, all parts of the Belt and Road Initiative, and together wrapping around Russia and its traditional areas of influence, forcing an eventual Russian response. The opening Arctic seas have spurred Russia to restrengthen its Arctic defenses, but this has reawakened the United States and Europe to the strategic challenges of the same region, and seen renewed defense activity and repositioning of forces to match.

The Russian government has established a new review of foreign investment and economic activity in the Arctic to ensure Russian national interests.

What once served as a largely impenetrable wall of ice protecting Russia's back is now an opening avenue exposing a long Russian coastline with little infrastructure and few population centers. Russia's Arctic coastline is largely empty. The government is offering incentives to increase migration to the region, to start businesses and develop infrastructure, but even with the melting sea ice, the area remains inhospitable and difficult territory. Changing permafrost patterns and poor quality construction and maintenance of Soviet-era infrastructure are adding to the cost of future development.

Most Russian Arctic development is in the west along the Kola Peninsula and at the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas, where the Ob River empties into the Kara Sea. There are also mineral developments in the Arctic areas of Krasnoyarsk Krai and The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), as well as plans for expanded port infrastructure on the Chukchi Peninsula at the eastern end of the Northern Sea Route. The nearly 2 million people in Russian Arctic territories may be the largest Arctic national population, but this is far shy of what it would take to develop a truly connected and robust region capable of sustaining a broad economic base or supplying the manpower and presence necessary to ensure security along the long opening coastline.

What to Watch

For Russia, then, the opening Arctic provides both opportunity and risk. For much of Russia's history, the country has been oriented south, looking to spread its influence and at times its borders to warmer seas. The Arctic was a shield, even during the Cold War when the polar route was the shortest for strategic aircraft and nuclear missiles. An open Arctic coastline increases foreign activity along Russia's north, and draws increasing interest from Asian nations seeking resources and routes. Russia's FSB has already raised concerns that foreign actors are trying to use Arctic native populations in Russia to undermine Russian strategic security, and the government has established a new review of foreign investment and economic activity in the Arctic to ensure Russian national interests.

New Russian naval development will need to take regular Arctic operations into consideration, not merely through the construction of more than a dozen new icebreakers, but from the design of ships themselves. The longer coastline and increased maritime traffic require a robust observation and communications infrastructure, linked into territorial defense and search and rescue. Russian aviation is expanding Arctic operations, from plans to add heavy drones to maintain surveillance to additional fighter aircraft, and even experiments once again as the Soviets did during the Cold War era with establishing temporary airfields on ice to ensure expanded operational capabilities. Russia is also modifying existing weapons systems and designing new ones for Arctic conditions.

Arctic infrastructure, resource extraction, transit safety and national security all require expenditure, and while the Arctic is a critical component of Russia's GDP, it does not provide the needed resources to fund the rising infrastructure and development needs. Yet for Moscow, Arctic development isn't an option, it is increasingly a necessity. The Russians may have a head start in rebuilding Arctic defense structures and in deploying and building icebreakers, but they are also dealing with a 24,000-kilometer coastline that now needs securing. In the global naval race, Russia remains far behind the United States and China.

Russia's Arctic development is a new priority for Moscow, adding to its existing long land borders, its troubled relations along its former Soviet European frontier, its expanded activity in the Middle East and North Africa, and in the face of a rising China. As we look over the next decade, the shift in Russian geography will play a significant role in how Russia reassesses its international relations and its national priorities.

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B1s to Norway
« Reply #65 on: February 09, 2021, 11:57:25 AM »
   
Daily Memo: US Deploys to the Arctic, German Trade Plummets
U.S. bombers were deployed to Norway for the first time.
By: Geopolitical Futures

Message to Moscow. The U.S. Air Force is sending B-1B Lancer bombers to Norway for the first time to begin missions within the next three weeks, reportedly as a signal to Russia of Washington’s commitment to defending its allies and the Arctic. Two hundred U.S. personnel will join the bombers in Norway’s Оrland Air Base. In response, Moscow deployed A-50 early warning and control aircraft to the Olenya air base on the Kola Peninsula in Murmansk on Feb. 7. Russia’s Defense Ministry also announced on Tuesday that two Tu-160 strategic bombers have completed a flight over the Barents, Greenland and Norwegian seas.

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Re: The New Race for the Arctic and Antartica:
« Reply #66 on: April 16, 2021, 04:21:35 PM »
April 16, 2021
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Russia's Arctic Buildup
Moscow is building unprecedented military power in the region.
By: Geopolitical Futures
Russia's Military Rise in the Arctic
(click to enlarge)

The Arctic, rich in natural resources and potential, is quickly becoming an area where the interests of major players, especially the United States and Russia, may collide. Russia, which controls significant territory in the region, has for years been increasing and strengthening its defensive positions, developing the northern territories, and modernizing infrastructure, including oil and gas production. It has also developed and tested shipping along the Northern Sea Route, which Moscow puts forward as an alternative trade route between Europe and Asia. Regarding its military presence, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says it is necessary because competition for access to the Arctic’s resources and for transit routes among the world’s great powers will only grow.

The U.S. State Department has repeatedly voiced concerns about Russian radar stations near Alaska and Russian air bases in the Far North, which the U.S. says could have offensive as well as defensive purposes. Moscow is building unprecedented military power in the Arctic and testing new weapons there, Washington says. Recently, Russia began testing its Belgorod nuclear submarine, which can carry an autonomous, nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed torpedo called the Poseidon. The Kremlin is also making plans to place a radar station on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago capable of detecting hypersonic targets. All this modernization will take time, however, not to mention scarce federal resources.

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The geopolitics of Russia's paradigm shift
« Reply #69 on: July 01, 2021, 05:28:09 AM »
The Geopolitics of Climate Change: Russia’s Paradigm Shift

undefined and Senior VP of Strategic Analysis
Rodger Baker
Senior VP of Strategic Analysis, Stratfor
8 MIN READJun 30, 2021 | 10:00 GMT





A view of Russia’s northernmost military base on the island of Alexandra Land on May 17, 2021.
A view of Russia’s northernmost military base on the island of Alexandra Land on May 17, 2021.

(MAXIME POPOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: This is part of an occasional series exploring the geopolitical and strategic implications of climate change.

The U.S. Defense Department is increasingly considering climate change in its assessments of future threats and challenges. In numerous reports, climate change implications are often characterized as “threat multipliers” — that is, elements that exacerbate existing trends or instabilities. But there are aspects of climate change that have even deeper implications by changing either the physical geography of particular spaces or their perceived relative significance. These are the geopolitical impacts, ranging from shifts in critical natural resources to the radical transformation of the Arctic.

Changes in climate patterns alter humanity’s interaction with geography directly and indirectly. There are immediate physical impacts, like shifts in land use, water availability, coastlines and soil stability. And there are also secondary impacts, like technological developments to adapt to or alter the physical environment, changes in migration patterns, or new competition over routes and resources.

National power — whether measured in economic opportunity, human capital or military strength — has long been shaped and influenced by geography. Natural resources, however, are not distributed evenly across the globe, nor is arable land, natural transportation routes or conducive conditions. Geography is not deterministic, but it clearly provides uneven opportunities and challenges around the globe. And today we are seeing climate change potentially alter fundamental geopolitical structures, with the Russian Arctic at the forefront.

A New Arctic Emerges
Perhaps the most immediate and obvious impacts of climate change can be seen in the Arctic. A May report by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) recognized that the Arctic is warming three times faster than the rest of the globe, even faster than reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) only a few years ago. With less ice protecting shorelines, winter storm erosion is eating away at coastal villages. Arctic and near-arctic fish stocks are moving to adapt to changing water temperatures. Arctic fires are becoming more frequent and covering greater areas. Thawing permafrost is undermining existing infrastructure around human settlements, military installations, and critical energy and mineral projects. Russia’s Northern Sea Route (NSR), meanwhile, is opening nearly year-round, with increased access even without icebreakers.The U.S. military has taken note of these impacts on its airstrips, radars and missile defense installations in Alaska. Russia, too, has stepped up the modernization of its Arctic defense facilities, and Moscow, as the new Chair of the Arctic Council, is emphasizing managed resource exploitation in the Arctic.

A Map Showing Arctic Sea Ice and Shipping Corridors
Both countries, along with NATO, are increasing military exercises and naval patrols in the Arctic, both for national security and in recognition of the likely increase in search and rescue and disaster response in much more accessible seas. But beyond these reactive aspects, there is a deeper geostrategic change underway — a fundamental restructuring of Russia’s strategic position.

The Thawing Eurasian Heartland
Modern Western geostrategic thought pays homage to British geographer Sir Halford J. Mackinder’s observations at the turn of the last century on the inherent insularity of a Eurasian “Heartland,” as well as on Mackinder and American geopolitician Nicholas Spykman’s considerations of the competition between traditional continental and maritime powers. Mackinder’s primary observation was that the core heartland of Eurasia was largely impenetrable to sea power, but could serve as a base of resources and manpower that, when brought together under a single power, would then be able to exert its power beyond the continent to the surrounding seas. Spykman emphasized that the clash between maritime powers and continental powers would take place where they met along the coastal periphery, or what he called the Rimland.

A Map Showing Russia's Major Rivers and Population Density
Key to the Eurasian heartland concept was the idea that the region had limited access by sea, but could maintain robust internal lines of communication, particularly with the advent of rail. This heartland was protected by strategic depth (something the French and Germans both discovered at different times in their drives toward Moscow), and was shielded along its entire northern frontier by ice. The rivers of the heartland also drained into inland seas, or into the inaccessible Arctic — limiting their use as internal transit corridors, but also as routes of maritime access and invasion.

These ideas shaped U.S. strategic thinking in its intervention in World War II, as well as its containment of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And they remain alive today, as the United States sees China’s Belt and Road Initiative as just the latest attempt by a Eurasian continental power to connect Eurasia and Africa and harness its inherent resources and strength.

A Shift in Russia’s Strategic Perspective
Despite the interest in Arctic and Far East resources, Russia has traditionally oriented away from its icy Arctic frontier, pushing either west toward Europe, south toward the Middle East and India, or east toward the Pacific coast. This has included attempts to access alternative sea routes and resources, as Russia’s naval reach is geographically constrained by bottlenecks in the Baltic and Black Seas or by Japan along the Pacific coast.

A more open and less frozen Arctic fundamentally alters Russia’s geography. It provides greater access to critical energy and mineral resources and, most significantly, opens a vast new maritime frontier. Moscow has placed the Arctic at center stage in its future economic development. Russia is investing in the infrastructure necessary to monitor and control the NSR. It has also announced plans for new rail links connecting its Arctic frontier to the core of Russia west of the Urals, and has launched an incentive drive to coax more internal migration into the Arctic and Far East regions.

A Mixed Blessing
Moscow has rapidly rebuilt its long depleted Cold War defense architecture along the Northern frontier, recognizing that access to the seas is not just a benefit, but a potential threat. Despite new efforts, Russia still has a minimal population in the Arctic, a poorly developed transportation infrastructure to link the Russian core to its Arctic frontier, and sees this newly open Northern flank as a strategic vulnerability. Moscow’s attempts to control all shipping through the NSR is but one additional response to this mixed blessing of an open Arctic.

From a geopolitical perspective, a Russia that now has an extensive coastline is a fundamentally different Russia than ever encountered in history. If Moscow is able to connect its Arctic frontier to its traditional core and take advantage of both the resources and the routes, it can begin to mitigate the traditional Western containment strategies, opening the path for a new dynamic in Russian strategic thought.

Rarely does geography change so quickly and so radically across such a broad space. A man-made example would be the opening of the Panama Canal, a transformative geopolitical event that allowed the United States to be not just a trans-continental power, but a two-ocean power. The opening of the Arctic provides similar new strategic opportunities for Russia if it is able to develop the infrastructure along its new maritime frontier. Already Moscow is building transshipment ports at each end of the NSR to better facilitate trans-Arctic transit and establish Russia in control of a key alternative link between Asia and Europe. The warming climate also opens the possibility for shifting land use in the Russian Far East, in addition to expanded resource extraction.

Great Power Competition
But it also creates new risks for Russia by opening maritime access to its competitors and opponents across a long and unprotected coast. Russian and Chinese cooperation in developing Russia’s Arctic energy infrastructure is tainted by differences in views on the use of the NSR. Russia considers the NSR internal waters, subject to Russian control and transit fees, while China considers it international waters, open to free passage. And Beijing is also exploring ways to sail further north, bypassing Russia’s NSR altogether.

China’s growing interest in the Arctic, coupled with Russia’s expanded military facilities, have also triggered responsive attention and actions in Europe and the United States. With the deployment of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to supplement the F-22, Alaska is emerging as the largest concentration of fifth-generation fighters in the world. The U.S. Army is also reshaping its Arctic strategy, stepping up Cold Weather training. And the U.S. Navy is slowly resuming Arctic patrols as well. In addition, the United States is stepping up joint bilateral and multilateral training and exercises in Arctic areas with Canada and Europe, as well as with its Pacific partners. Renewed calls to keep the Arctic a “zone of peace” are complicated by the physical realities of climate change in the Arctic, and by national responses.

As attention to the Arctic increases, Russia is faced with a new strategic reality. It must shift its traditional southward focus and secure its newly open northern flank, while also trying to encourage internal population migration and fund infrastructure to facilitate connectivity and resource development. Russia’s relations with the West remain strained, and its strategic partnership with China hides underlying distrust and a growing imbalance of power in Beijing’s favor. Russia’s new need for more robust naval capabilities will compete with its longstanding risks along its extensive land borders. How Moscow manages these competing geopolitical realities will determine whether the opening of the Arctic is a new opportunity for Russia to reshape its future, or a new risk that leaves Moscow vulnerable as the world changes around it.

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Washington Times: Huge ice breaker gap with Russia
« Reply #71 on: September 27, 2021, 03:37:06 AM »
Icebreaker gap gives Russia lead in Arctic control

Coast Guard sends distress signals to Congress

BY MIKE GLENN THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A Seattle-based Coast Guard cutter is almost halfway through a monthslong voyage that took it through the ice-choked Northwest Passage north of Canada and will eventually result in a circumnavigation of North America once it transits the Panama Canal and returns home.

The mission of the USCGC Healy, a 420-foot medium icebreaker, was to stage military exercises alongside allies such as Canada and carry out highlatitude scientific research. Another assignment was to demonstrate a U.S. presence in the Arctic as long-term warming trends reduce the ice and dramatically increase maritime traffic in the region.

One problem for American strategists seeking to make a statement: By itself, the 22-year-old Healy represents exactly 50% of the U.S. Coast Guard’s “fleet” of active polar icebreakers. Russia, by contrast, boasts dozens and is building more. Other states vying for influence and resources in the Arctic also outpace the U.S.

The USCGC Polar Star, also based in Seattle, is a heavy icebreaker and even older. It was commissioned in 1976. A third USCG heavy icebreaker, the Polar Sea, is being cannibalized to provide parts for its sister ship. For years, Coast Guard officials have

been pleading with Congress to help bulk up the icebreaker fleet to ensure continued access to the polar regions.

With Russia and China making a concerted push for influence in the Arctic, the lagging American presence is even more glaring in light of the Pentagon’s strategy of focusing on “great power” rivals.

“We absolutely need to be up in the Arctic and down in Antarctica on a more persistent basis than we are today. Great power competition is alive and well there,” Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant of the Coast Guard, told the House Homeland Security Committee at a hearing this summer.

Russia has at least 40 heavy icebreakers, including six that are nuclear-powered, and intends to use the northern sea route through the Arctic as essentially an economic toll road, Adm. Schultz said.

“There will be freedom-of-navigation issues in the future,” Adm. Schultz warned.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the development of the Arctic a strategic priority and moved to make sure Moscow plays the dominant role. The Agence France-Presse news service reported this month that Russian state corporate giants such as Gazprom Neft, Norilsk Nickel and Rosneft are already exploring for oil, gas and minerals in the Arctic.

“The Arctic region has enormous potential,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told AFP. “In terms of resources, we’re talking about 15 billion metric tons of oil and 100 trillion cubic meters of gas, enough for tens if not hundreds of years,” he said.

In 2019, the Coast Guard and the Navy awarded a $745 million design and construction contract for up to three polar security cutters to Mississippi-based VT Halter Marine. The contract includes options that could push the price tag to more than $1.9 billion.

The new cutters “will fill a current, definitive need for the Coast Guard’s statutory mission and provide support for other mission needs in the higher latitudes vital to the economic vitality, scientific inquiry, and national interests of the United States,” company officials said.

The first ship delivery is scheduled for 2024, the second for 2025 and the last for early 2027, VT Halter Marine said.

The U.S. has been an Arctic nation since it purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. The Arctic Circle is the source of untapped oil and gas reserves along with rare earth minerals. Vessels like the Healy and the Polar Star are the most effective tools for maintaining access to the icy regions for scientific, economic and security purposes, advocates say.

“They definitely are invaluable. We really do rely on these ships to be able to get deep into what ice remains and take measurements, said Jim Thomson, an oceanographer at the University of Washington. “It’s unfortunate how limited that capability is. I would almost use the word ‘embarrassing.’” Even with the global warming trends, parts of the Arctic and Antarctic are impassable without an icebreaker, Mr. Thomson said.

“When these platforms are available, I’d give us pretty high marks of making good use of them,” he said. “It can’t really overstate it. It’s an essential tool for this kind of work.”

Russia accounts for more than half of the Arctic Ocean coastline, so the Kremlin’s fixation on high-latitude opportunities might be understandable. China, though not an Arctic nation, also has ambitions to become a major player in the region. Beijing says it needs an Arctic presence and access as it builds up a global trading economy second only to that of the U.S. It is constructing a fleet of icebreakers as part of a “Polar Silk Road” initiative.

Officials at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington said the geopolitical environment in the Arctic region is changing as allies and adversaries contend for economic and strategic advantage.

“Russia and China exemplify that strategic competition,” the Coast Guard said in a statement. “Both have declared the Arctic a strategic priority. Both have made significant investments in new or refurbished capabilities and both are attempting to exert direct or indirect influence across the region.”

Malte Humpert, the founder of The Arctic Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said the northern sea route was frozen year-round with little to no commercial traffic as late as the early 2000s.

“Suddenly, climate change is offering this opportunity for Russia to access resources that previously would have been impossible. Now you have a whole new ocean that is opening up,” he said. “It’s a new theater of engagement — just like the Mediterranean, the Atlantic or Pacific.”

Heavy icebreakers like the Polar Star are capable of cutting through ice at least 10 feet thick. Medium cutters like the Healy can break through ice packs about 8 feet thick. But years of crashing through the ice have taken their toll on both vessels.

In 2018, the Polar Star had major mechanical problems while carving a path through the Ross Sea in Antarctica for its annual Operation Deep Freeze mission to resupply McMurdo Station, the primary U.S. hub there. After a fire on the Healy last year, Coast Guard officials scrapped a key excursion to help broaden the U.S. footprint in the Arctic and push back against Russian expansion.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, Alaska Republican, said Russia has opened more than a dozen deep-water ports, military bases and airfields in the Arctic as part of its push to control the region.

“Without persistent U.S. presence in the Arctic, we risk leaving an opening for these types of aggressive actions to continue,” Mr. Sullivan said in a statement provided to The Washington Times. “Our rivals in Moscow and Beijing already acknowledge and are acting upon the Arctic’s geopolitical significance, and it is well past time for the U.S. to do the same.”

The Coast Guard this year awarded a $119 million contract to Mare Island Dry Dock in California to keep the Polar Star running for at least another four years until the first new-generation polar security cutter joins the fleet. The work will be performed in stages so the Coat Guard can still meet missions such as Operation Deep Freeze, officials said.

For the past two decades, the polar regions took a back seat as U.S. political and military leaders focused on Iraq and Afghanistan. Even now, it will be a challenge to keep policymakers’ attention on the Arctic and Antarctic, Mr. Humpert said.

“This needs to be part of a sustained effort,” he said. “It really starts with Congress. They appropriated trillions of dollars to Afghanistan and Iraq, [and] the same needs to happen to the Arctic.”

Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican, said the wealth of resources in the Arctic means the future belongs to whoever controls the region. The Coast Guard’s coming polar security cutters are only part of the solution, he said.

“The second part is securing the physical infrastructure to support homeporting [and] deployment in and to Alaska,” he said in a statement. “America is an Arctic nation only because of Alaska, and it is time we utilize our state’s unique positioning to enhance our national security and ensure peace and stability in the region in the decades ahead.”

‘Embarrassing’

Wear and tear


HUMBLE BEGINNING: The Coast Guard Cutter Healy (left) and the Cutter Polar Star are the only active polar icebreakers in the U.S. “fleet.” Russia, meanwhile, boasts dozens and is building more. ASSOCIATED PRESS


The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy is a medium cutter that can break through ice packs 8 feet thick. Its sister ship, the Polar Star, is a heavy cutter that can cut through ice at least 10 feet thick. Years of crashing through ice have taken their toll on both vessels.

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NATO tensions complicate Russia's Arctic ambitions
« Reply #72 on: March 21, 2022, 09:19:26 AM »
NATO Tensions Reinforce and Complicate Russia's Arctic Ambitions
undefined and Senior VP of Strategic Analysis
Rodger Baker
Senior VP of Strategic Analysis, Stratfor
9 MIN READMar 17, 2022 | 14:59 GMT





A Russian serviceman stands guard by a military truck on Alexandra Land, the largest island in Russia's Franz Josef Land archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, in May 2021. 
A Russian serviceman stands guard by a military truck on Alexandra Land, the largest island in Russia's Franz Josef Land archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, in May 2021.

(MAXIME POPOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The Ukraine invasion has returned NATO's attention to Russia as a strategic threat, which has in turn only fueled Moscow's perception of the Western security bloc as an expansionist force. As a result, the whole of the Russia-NATO contact line has been brought back into play — including in the Arctic, where thawing ice is unlocking a plethora of natural resources and transit routes.

For Russia in particular, new Western sanctions related to Ukraine increase the Arctic's economic and strategic importance. But the added financial strain also increases the complexity of realizing Moscow's ambitious vision for the region.

Tapping Into the Arctic's Wealth

Russia is in the midst of an ambitious 15-year plan to increase the amount of infrastructure, people and economic activity in the Arctic. This plan includes extracting mineral resources and expanding oil and gas production in the region, as well as developing a robust transit corridor along Russia's Arctic frontier.

The West's response to the Ukraine invasion has only reinforced Moscow's need to strengthen its Arctic security, particularly as the Arctic holds much of Russia's resource wealth. As Russia assesses its long-term response to Western sanctions, the strategic oil, gas, and mineral resources in the Arctic will be an important component of its future economic security. Despite bans on Russian oil imports by the United States, Europe has struggled to cut off its Russian energy supplies, providing Moscow with a tool to mitigate efforts to isolate or decouple the Russian economy. Russia's Arctic and Far East production of key minerals, including nickel and palladium, provide similarly limited insulation for Moscow against long-term sanctions, as they remain critical to the global energy transition and high-tech trade.

The Arctic routes may also prove an important link in Russia's supply lines to Asia and beyond, particularly if relations with Europe deteriorate further and potentially threaten rail and road connections from Russia and Belarus to the Continent. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, Arctic economic activity made-up roughly 10% of Russia's GDP, and nearly 90% of its natural gas output. In a semi-isolated Russia, this resource base will only grow in economic and strategic significance.

If the trend of Western economic separation from Moscow continues, Russia will become increasingly reliant on the Arctic's energy, mineral and timber resources for national revenue and as a way to mitigate deeper economic isolation. The challenge for Russia is to find the money and technical expertise to develop its Arctic resources fully, while not finding itself overly dependent on China.

Economic Challenges to Russia's Arctic Ambitions

New Western sanctions complicate Russia's plans for the Arctic, which was an already challenging prospect even before the added financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and, more recently, the Ukraine invasion. The sanctions and individual company responses to the war in Ukraine are constraining Russian companies' access to financing and key technologies far beyond those initially imposed following the 2014 annexation of Crimea. The withdrawal of several Western oil companies from Russian Arctic and Far East projects further constrains Russia's operations, and potential Chinese expertise may not be able to quickly replace their Western counterpart's roles and capabilities.

Russia must also contend with the longer-term implications of sanctions and shifting European politics. Europe has not immediately cut its imports of Russian oil and gas. However, this latest crisis involving Russia's Ukraine invasion — coupled with long-term energy transition plans — will drive European countries, key among them Germany, to more readily seek ways to wean off of their over-dependence on Russian supplies. Plans for new liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals and the suspension of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project between Germany and Russia will incentivize new import sourcing for Europe, though this will take time.

If the political and economic isolation of Russia continues, Moscow will find itself even more dependent on China as a market and investor, solidifying Russia as the weaker partner and raising longer-term tensions between Moscow and Beijing. While Moscow is currently focused on securing its European frontier, China — which sits along Russia's exposed southern and eastern flanks — is also expanding its economic and political influence throughout Central Asia, adding to Moscow's long-term strategic challenges.

NATO's Response in the Arctic

In addition to the economic challenges, Russia faces a more active NATO in the Arctic. Moscow has already spent the last decade reinforcing its Arctic security forces as the warming climate opens up once-frozen transit routes in the region. But while the fighting is far from Russia's northern frontier, the war in Ukraine is also reinforcing the Arctic's strategic significance to Russia's national defense, as Moscow increasingly views NATO activity anywhere as a strategic threat to core Russian interests — a perception that has been reinforced in recent years by a series of agreements among NATO and non-NATO members in the European North, particularly Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

The Russia-Ukraine war has brought support for NATO membership to a new high in Sweden and Finland — two of the eight countries in the world with territory in the Arctic Circle (with the others including Russia, Canada, the United States, Norway, Denmark and Iceland). It's currently unlikely Finland and Sweden will rapidly shift their semi-neutral stance and join the North Atlantic defense bloc, which would leave Russia as the only non-NATO Arctic state. But their trend toward expanded defense cooperation and planning will still be seen in Moscow as shifting Arctic nation relations from a multipolar format to a nominally bi-polar structure — with Russia on one side, and NATO and its aligned countries on the other.

Regardless of Finland and Sweden's future standing in the Western security alliance, the Ukraine invasion has reawakened NATO to the Russian threat. The Arctic is the shortest route between Russia and North America, making it a key focal point of strategic competition. Russia's not-so-subtle threats of nuclear weapons as a deterrent to NATO intervention in Ukraine have highlighted the Arctic's traditional role as the frontline between potentially opposing nuclear forces, as the region serves as the shortest route for nuclear missiles and nuclear-armed strategic bombers, as well as a hiding place for nuclear missile submarines. In addition to these traditional Cold War systems, the shifting Arctic climate and advances in technology are increasingly bringing surface combatants and land forces to the Atlantic Arctic frontier.

Even prior to Russia's Ukraine invasion, NATO and individual NATO members have stepped up Arctic exercises and training in and around Norway. New U.S. Arctic strategies are also directing new funding, infrastructure and increased training near Russia's Pacific Arctic frontier in Alaska. So while the thawing Arctic offers Russia a new key strategic route to manage far-flung threats from both ends of the Eurasian continent, it also serves as a potential vulnerability by melting the ice wall that has helped shield Russia from invasion and containment.

Implications for the Arctic

Increased attention to and tensions in the Arctic over the next several years have several implications for Russia, Europe and North America:

The Arctic Council, the primary body for managing regional cooperation and stability, may find itself more politicized as a result of Russia's economic and political isolation. The eight states with territory in the Arctic make up the permanent members of the Arctic Council. Without Russia, the body loses its ability to manage broader Arctic issues, as Russia fronts half of the Arctic coastline. This may open opportunities for ''near-Arctic'' China and others to assert the need for a new Arctic management mechanism that is more inclusive of non-Arctic countries.
Joint scientific research in the Arctic may also fall victim to growing strategic tension between Russia and the West. This is significant for climate research, but also for research over maritime food stocks. Changes in ocean temperatures are already driving locational changes of key commercial fish and other ocean foodstuffs. Fish do not respect international borders, and weakened Russian-Western scientific cooperation can impact fisheries rights, and contribute to potential clashes over contested fishing grounds. In the South China Sea, such tensions have nearly led to war. Along the Arctic frontier, fisheries can quickly become caught up in strategic competition — impacting livelihoods, food security, and potentially triggering clashes near Norway or the Bering Sea.

Rising Arctic tensions will bring Greenland back to the forefront, with the United States and NATO seeking expanded access. A nascent independence movement on the island could become integrated into any discussions of an increased military presence or of access to critical minerals in Greenland as a way to ease dependence on other international sources. Complex Greenland/Denmark/U.S. relations provide an opportunity for political interference by Russia or China, each for their own ends.

As Arctic military training and patrols increase, there is a parallel increase in the risk of accidental confrontations or miscalculations. Russia and NATO have long had communication channels and ways to de-escalate, but these are not always followed or effective. NATO (and more recently Japan) and Russia regularly scramble their own interceptors and fighters to shadow flights of the others' strategic aircraft, but the opening of Arctic waters is adding more surface maritime activity — creating new areas for possible miscalculation, not least because these activities often overlap with commercial fishing and shipping operations.

A final implication comes from China, a self-proclaimed near-Arctic nation. Beijing sees the Arctic as a key component of its broader strategic connectivity plans. But both its Arctic maritime routes and its rail routes across Eurasia to Europe may be interrupted by European economic restrictions on Russia. China is likely to seek its own Arctic routes, north of Russia's Northern Sea Route, which will increase Chinese surveying and scientific vessels in the Arctic — ships that may serve dual military purposes.

Bringing the Arctic Back Into Focus

Since the end of the Cold War up until about a decade ago, the United States' security focus on Russia and the Arctic took a backseat to more pressing threats. But this has started to change in tandem with the Arctic's increasingly accessible landscape and Russia's increasingly aggressive behavior. Washington and, more recently, its European allies are now seeing the Arctic as an area of increased strategic threat, which is in turn only fueling Moscow's interest in the region. The 2014 Ukraine crisis and Russia's annexation of Crimea triggered a renewed NATO focus on Russia — not just as a neighbor, but once again as a strategic opponent. But it took the full Russian invasion of Ukraine to bring this into sharp focus.

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Re: The New Race for the Arctic and Antarctica:
« Reply #73 on: May 13, 2022, 07:04:20 PM »
China's Opportunity to Break Into Arctic Governance
9 MIN READMay 13, 2022 | 20:15 GMT





Polar bears in Essen Bay off the coast of Zemlya Georga -- an island in the Franz Josef Land archipelago -- on August 22, 2021.
Polar bears in Essen Bay off the coast of Zemlya Georga -- an island in the Franz Josef Land archipelago -- on August 22, 2021.

(Photo by Ekaterina Anisimova/AFP via Getty Images)

Following the Russian re-invasion of Ukraine, seven of the eight Arctic Council members (all aside from Russia) suspended participation in council activities, as Russia is currently the Arctic Council chair. Representatives of these nations will meet soon to discuss how to maintain collaborative Arctic governance and determine what level of cooperation with Russia will be necessary, particularly in areas of scientific research and fishery management. But the pause, which is unlikely to be lifted anytime soon, provides an opportunity for China to call for a new Arctic governance structure. Beijing sees this as the moment to further internationalize Arctic governance, giving China a greater say and softening the grip of the eight geographically Arctic nations.

Although international law and norms hold sway in the Arctic, both at sea and on land, the Arctic Council serves as a focused body to collaboratively manage Arctic development and current and future issues (aside from traditional security). Established in 1996 by the eight nations with territory north of the Arctic Circle, the Arctic Council is a post-Cold War creation built around the idea of active and equal participation of all Arctic nations — most notably Russia, which accounts for nearly a third of Arctic land and was at the time transitioning from Soviet-era isolation to a new inclusion in the international system. A year after the formation of the Arctic Council, for example, Russia was invited to join the Group of Seven nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States), another sign of Western attempts to include Russia in the Western-led liberal economic and global order. While Russia was suspended from the then-Group of Eight after its 2014 annexation of Crimea, Russia remained an active participant in the Arctic Council and even took on its second two-year rotational role as chair in May 2021.

While the Arctic Council is dominated by the eight Arctic nations and special representation from Indigenous Arctic communities, the council has slowly expanded through the introduction of official observer states. In 2006 and 2007, China began working with the Arctic Council, seeking to engage with and gain a foothold in future Arctic governance. In 2013, the council finally admitted China as one of six countries granted permanent observer status. Beijing is also active in the Arctic Circle, a forum established in 2013 with much wider membership and participation, where China can drive areas of focus and collaboration and seek to insert its own views of Arctic management and access. For China, both groups, as well as several other international bodies and organizations, provide space for asserting Chinese interests in future Arctic development.


One of Beijing's biggest concerns with the Arctic Council structure is that it locks Arctic management in the hands of the current eight Arctic nations, constraining the roles of all others. In 2018, China declared itself a "near Arctic nation," to both mirth and concern among the Arctic countries. But from Beijing's perspective, the phrase is an assertion of China's right to play a larger role in Arctic governance and future use, whether measured by China's (tenuous) geographic propinquity, its share of the global population (and thus need for resources) or its share of global economic activity (and thus potential contribution to future development).

Beijing asserts that, as the Arctic is a critical aspect of the global climate system, it is in the interest of all nations to play a role in Arctic management. Thus, the Arctic is the common heritage of humankind, a region of global concern and an area of abundant resources that should be more "equitably" accessible to nations beyond the eight Arctic countries. Although China agreed to abide by the current rules and norms in the Arctic as part of its observer status in the Arctic Council, Beijing wants to play a bigger role in shaping future Arctic governance and development. "Internationalizing" Arctic governance would serve several goals for Beijing.

First, the region is a storehouse of natural resources, including hydrocarbons, critical minerals, abundant fish and other maritime food stocks. As the climate continues to shift, opening new areas of the Arctic, Beijing wants to ensure it has a key role in shaping any future agreements on access to Arctic resources.
Second, Beijing sees the area as a key future transit region. China currently cooperates with Russia on its Northern Sea Route, but Beijing counters Moscow's assertion that the NSR is internal Russian waters and instead asserts that the route is an international straight (and thus transit should not be constrained by Russian rules or fees). Beijing is also eyeing the future opening of the Trans-Polar Route, which would bypass either Russian or Canadian claims of internal passage. By keeping active in the Arctic region through scientific, commercial and potentially military presence, China is establishing its "right" to shape any future agreements on Arctic transit. This not only has commercial value for Beijing but also allows China a role in changing the strategic nuclear balance in the Arctic via submarines.

Third, China sees Arctic governance in a similar context as Antarctic governance — models of international control that are exclusionary, keeping China out due to history or geography, despite China's population and economic heft. Adjustments in one could crack the governance of the other open as well.

Finally, the polar regions serve as areas for China to take a leadership role in establishing new forms of global governance. The polar areas are, from Beijing's perspective, some of the last global frontiers, along with the deep seas. These are areas where China can focus its efforts to assert its right as a major global power to revise or write new global agreements for access and regulation — agreements that are not necessarily constrained by Western liberal ideologies. These "frontier" areas may also serve as models for China's desire to set the new rules for access to resources in space, including the moon.

Beijing has long argued that current global norms and standards are not globally representative, rather that they reflect a North Atlantic system put in place following World War II that once represented the core of global economic power. But the world has evolved since the 1940s, and the post-World War II order does not match the social, political or economic historical norms of most of the world, which had little say in the past. Therefore, Beijing argues that it is time to begin readjusting these global norms and mechanisms to better represent other countries, not just a handful of European and North American liberal democracies. Cracking Arctic governance would begin eroding the seams of broader global governance.

With the current suspension of Arctic Council actions, China may be positioned to renew its argument for a better and more representative governance structure. The likely move by Finland and Sweden to join NATO would only reinforce China's position, as it would divide the Arctic between NATO nations and Russia — effectively forcing the security dynamic into the equation and making it harder to separate Arctic collaboration from Arctic competition. There are already voices in the Arctic nations wondering whether the Arctic Council can survive the loss of Russia or ever re-engage Moscow. There are also concerns about China trying to internationalize Arctic governance by breaking out of Cold War- and Western-centric mindsets and moving toward a more equitable system of management (meaning one with a greater role for China).


Any move to re-frame the Arctic Council to permanently suspend Russia would embolden China to work with Moscow to promote an alternative forum for global Arctic governance. The West's political constraints make the Russia dilemma nearly insoluble. As an intergovernmental body, the Arctic Council effectively requires the members to either engage with Russia as a state fully on issues of the Arctic, or somehow separate Russian government membership from the actions of specific government bodies and private actors in areas such as science, search and rescue, or fisheries management. The latter seems unacceptable to Moscow, the former distasteful to the United States and many of the European members, particularly with the increased attention to Arctic defense. If the remaining seven Arctic Council members seek to proceed with their own cooperation and hope for a future change after Russia's chairmanship lapses in 2023, they reinforce China's position that the Arctic Council has devolved from a cooperative forum to a competitive one, thus needing to be replaced in the interest of world peace.

Beijing does not need to act overtly to exploit the cracks in the seams of Arctic governance. China may simply call for a greater role for observer states during the current suspension, using cooperation now as a way to strengthen its future influence without overtly challenging the current organization. Beijing could also work through the Arctic Circle, which is often seen as an end-around to the more closed Arctic Council, informally strengthening the Arctic Circle's role and influence while the Arctic Council sits in limbo. In both these cases, China may enlist other interested nations, such as India, which seeks greater Arctic access and continues to walk a careful line of cooperation between Russia and the West.

But at the bolder end of the spectrum, Beijing could simply heighten its Arctic cooperation with Russia, exploiting Moscow's economic losses to gain greater traction in shaping Russian Arctic development and expanding its own presence in the Arctic as an assertion of its right to shape future rules. Or China could even begin making the argument that the breakdown of the Arctic Council and the rising "Cold War mentality" of NATO and Russia make the Arctic Council itself largely moot, and with the urgent need to consider climate change impacts and maintain the Arctic as a "zone of peace and cooperation," it needs U.N. oversight, reformation or eventual replacement.

As the seven other Arctic Council members prepare to meet without Russia and seek near- and mid-term solutions to coordination and collaboration, they will watch China's responses closely. Most Arctic nations remain committed to keeping regional management in regional hands, but the longer relations with Russia remain on hold, the more likely a new, internationalized Arctic governance model becomes.

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WSJ: Sweden & Finland will help NATO confront Russia in Arctic
« Reply #74 on: June 10, 2022, 10:24:58 AM »
https://www.wsj.com/articles/sweden-and-finland-will-help-nato-confront-russia-in-the-arctic-ice-submarine-nuclear-11654786841?mod=opinion_lead_pos6

Three Russian submarines, seemingly equipped to carry 16 ballistic missiles with multiple nuclear warheads, simultaneously broke through the ice near the North Pole in March 2021. The boats were soon joined by two MiG-31 aircraft and ground troops participating in Umka-2021, a Russian Arctic military exercise that signaled a new and dangerous era for the polar region and the world. But Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization provides an opportunity to contain the Kremlin’s strategy for domination of the Arctic and North Pole.

Thanks to climate change, the Arctic has increasingly become a navigable sea route. The maximum ice coverage hit the lowest level on record, 5.57 million square miles, in 2017. One model suggests the Arctic Ocean could be largely free of ice in summer by 2035, although some experts say the mid-2040s is more realistic. This means that nations bordering the Arctic, including the U.S. and Russia, will have an enormous stake in who has access to and control of the resources of this energy- and mineral-rich region as well as the new sea routes for global commerce the melt-off is creating. Forty-three of the nearly 60 large oil and natural-gas fields that have been discovered in the Arctic are in Russia, according to a 2009 American Energy Department report. Eleven are in Canada, six in Alaska and one in Norway.

With this in mind, Russia has been active in taking advantage of the retreat of sea ice to militarize the region. U.S. Alaska Command reported that it intercepted more Russian military aircraft near the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone in 2020 than at any other time since the Cold War. In 2007, Artur Chilingarov, a Russian Duma member, led a submarine expedition to the North Pole and planted a Russian flag on the seabed. Later he declared: “The Arctic is Russian.”

While China isn’t an Arctic country, Beijing has also shown a keen interest in the region. Besides eyeing the Arctic’s rich energy deposits (perhaps 30% of world’s unexplored natural-gas reserves), the Chinese know new shipping routes through the Arctic would provide a route from East Asia to Europe that is about 8,000 miles long. The one most often traversed now, which runs through the Suez Canal, is roughly 13,000 miles. Ships would save between 10 to 15 days of travel.

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Chinese business interests have made bids for Arctic real estate. In 2016, China attempted to buy an old military base in Greenland before Denmark blocked the purchase as a favor to the U.S. In 2018 a Chinese company even tried to build an airport near the U.S. base at Thule, Greenland, again without success. More alarmingly, Chinese officials tried to buy Finland’s Kemijärvi air base in Lapland, ostensibly to conduct Arctic research. Finland blocked the sale, reasonably fearing that plans to expand the airport to handle large Chinese aircraft could have other, more sinister purposes.

The U.S. has been slow in developing an Arctic strategy of its own. The region is mentioned only once in the 2017 National Security Strategy and not at all in the 2018 National Defense Strategy. Although the Biden administration has yet to make public its 2022 National Defense Strategy, the Pentagon did issue an Arctic strategy document in 2019, and the Air Force and Navy have their own versions. But these are isolated documents with no plans for coordination of operations or resources—let alone with fellow members of NATO, such as Canada, that also have a vital stake in the Arctic.

NATO hasn’t done much better—its joint statement after the 2021 summit mentioned “the High North” exactly once—but that could change. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine made the allies acutely aware of the threat Russia poses, and in Sweden and Finland, it will gain nations capable of leading Arctic strategy. Until now, the loudest advocate inside NATO for security in the Arctic has been Norway. In March it conducted Cold Response, a 30,000-strong Arctic military exercise, including forces from Finland and Sweden.

Now all three Nordic nations will be able to work to secure the Arctic through NATO. Both Finland and Sweden bring quite a bit to the table. Finland is a leader in icebreaker ship building, while the Swedish navy has a quiet and highly effective submarine fleet, which will be crucial for polar defense. Of the eight nations that are permanent members of the Arctic Council—the principal intergovernmental forum for coordinating Arctic policy—all but Russia are or soon will be NATO members (the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Finland). The alliance has an opportunity to develop a robust Arctic strategy to contain Russia and China. It’s vital that NATO protect freedom of navigation and the Arctic’s abundant natural resources for the future.

The first order of business for NATO should be conducting joint exercises in the Arctic, especially naval exercises and ballistic-missile-defense drills. Russia could use long-range missiles and naval assets in the Russian Arctic to threaten NATO in the Atlantic or the Baltic. The alliance needs to demonstrate a capability to meet that threat, which ought to include working with non-Arctic NATO members like the Baltic republics.


The alliance should also develop an outreach program for the Arctic’s indigenous peoples, who are also represented on the Arctic Council as permanent members through various indigenous peoples’ organizations. Norway, Denmark (which governs Greenland) and Canada already work with their indigenous populations to improve relations, which includes military operational procedures. NATO should do the same and make clear that a strong and resilient alliance presence benefits all the people living in the region.

NATO would also be wise to use its June summit in Madrid to establish an Arctic Strategy Task Force that can plan and coordinate a joint response to Russian aggression, among other things by creating a network of high-altitude unmanned aircraft to keep persistent watch over the region and share intelligence and data, including satellite links, among allies.

The alliance should also hold its next summit above the Arctic Circle. Choosing a Norwegian city such as Tromsø or Bodø would clearly demonstrate that NATO takes threats to this region seriously.

Mr. Putin believes the Arctic is Moscow’s exclusive enclave. NATO and Washington need to demonstrate the opposite: Keeping the Arctic region free and open is the best policy for our respective national interests as well as global stability and peace.

Mr. Herman is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of “The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered the World.”

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China in the Arctic
« Reply #75 on: August 25, 2022, 07:05:03 PM »
China in the Arctic. In an article published in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia’s activities in the Arctic were a strategic challenge for the alliance. He noted that Russia had significantly increased its military activity in the Arctic, which is increasingly a major focus for world powers. China is also expanding its presence there, declaring itself a subarctic state and planning a Polar Silk Road connecting China to Europe via the Arctic.

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WSJ: Wrangel island
« Reply #76 on: November 06, 2022, 03:29:05 AM »
Russia Occupies American Land, Too
The U.S. should reclaim Wrangel Island, which Lenin’s gunboat Red October seized in 1924.
By Thomas Emanuel Dans
Nov. 4, 2022 6:25 pm ET


Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean.
PHOTO: SYLVAIN CORDIER/GAMMA-RAPHO VIA GETTY IMAGES

This week, an obscure Russian environmental publication challenged the Kremlin’s move to waive the country’s environmental restrictions so its military could hold war games on a distant island in the Arctic Ocean.

The writers were no doubt courageous but missed a bigger problem. The island, eight time zones east of Moscow and home to some of Earth’s greatest natural wonders, belongs to the U.S.

As Vladimir Putin pursues his illegal war on Ukraine, he avoids inconvenient truths from Russia’s Soviet past. Among them, Russia has been holding U.S. territory since 1924.

Only once in its history has the U.S. ceded control of its territory to a hostile power. That was to the marauding forces of another Vladimir—Lenin—and it’s the saga of America’s lost Arctic islands. They remain under Russian control, and the U.S. should demand them back.


One hundred years ago Lenin’s Bolshevik henchmen on the Soviet gunboat Red October seized the islands from American settlers. They arrested the settlers and detained them for years, with some dying in captivity. Joseph Stalin’s forces subsequently used the islands to imprison and torture dissidents, including Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.

Today the islands are home to a state-of-the-art Russian military base, from which Mr. Putin can threaten American sovereignty. Last month, the U.S. Air Force intercepted Russian bombers menacing Alaska’s borders, part of a projection of force where Wrangel Island plays a strategic role.

On Aug. 12, 1881, U.S. Revenue Cutter Service Capt. Calvin L. Hooper and his crew landed on Wrangel Island, a roughly 2,900-square-mile uninhabited island in the Arctic Ocean 270 miles northwest of Cape Lisburne, Alaska. On the banks of the Clark River, Hooper and his fellow officers of the U.S. Revenue Marine Steamer Thomas Corwin raised the American flag and took possession of the island.


That day, Hooper was in the middle of the Arctic fulfilling his duties as commander of the Bering Sea Patrol, a part of the Treasury Department that would later become the Coast Guard. As America’s senior official in the young District of Alaska, Hooper was also the de facto governor of Alaska, tasked with overseeing the territory, which had been formed following the purchase by the U.S. 14 years earlier.

Hooper and his crew, including naturalist John Muir, had been ordered by Congress to rescue a U.S. Arctic research vessel, the USS Jeannette. The rescue ultimately failed, but as it happened, only weeks before the Corwin’s arrival at Wrangel Island, the Jeannette’s Lt. Cmdr. George Washington De Long and his crew—still alive but having abandoned ship after an ordeal trapped in the Arctic ice floe—discovered and claimed the nearby Bennet, Henrietta and Jeannette islands, which today are also held by Russia.

In the decades that followed, American and Russian publications recognized U.S. sovereignty over Wrangel. In 1921 the island saw its first party of permanent settlers. Three years later, on Aug. 20, 1924, the Soviet gunboat Red October arrived with a company of Red Army infantry. Taking the 14 American settlers prisoner, the Red October transferred them to captivity in the Russian port of Vladivostok, where they remained for years. At the time, the settlement was owned by Lomen Brothers, a Nome, Alaska, reindeer and trapping company, which along with the state of Alaska maintains its claim to this day.

Roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, Wrangel is no barren Arctic wasteland. Aside from its Russian military base, the island features the world’s highest density of polar bear dens and Pacific walruses, more than 400 species of plants and 100 species of migratory birds, many endangered. It was home to the world’s last woolly mammoths, prehistoric creatures that survived there until a few thousand years ago. Indications are that what lies underground at Wrangel could be no less valuable, including potentially large quantities of oil, gas and other minerals.

If Mr. Putin has forgotten this history, Joe Biden may well remember it. Thirty years ago he ran the Senate Foreign Relations Committee debate during which Sen. Frank Murkowski (R., Alaska) said that a vote in favor of a 1991 U.S.-Russia boundary treaty would in no way prejudice potential future U.S. claims to the islands. Sen. Jesse Helms (R., N.C.) also emphasized this, saying, “I doubt that the State Department will make use of the opportunity to press U.S. claims to the five islands—even though the right to do so is preserved.”

Today, that opportunity has just made land.

Mr. Dans is a co-founder and portfolio manager at Amberwave Partners, an investment manager. He served as counselor to the U.S. Treasury undersecretary for international affairs (2020-21) and as a Commissioner of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (2021).



Crafty_Dog

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RANE: Russian isolation opens doors for China
« Reply #79 on: May 16, 2023, 02:39:50 PM »
In the Arctic, Russia's Geopolitical Isolation Opens New Doors for China
undefined and Director, Stratfor Center for Applied Geopolitics at RANE
Rodger Baker
Director, Stratfor Center for Applied Geopolitics at RANE, Stratfor
May 16, 2023 | 19:34 GMT





Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (3rd from right), Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store (4th from left) and members of their delegations meet in Oslo, Norway, on May 12, 2023.
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (3rd from right), Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store (4th from left) and members of their delegations meet in Oslo, Norway, on May 12, 2023.

(TERJE PEDERSEN/NTB/AFP via Getty Images)

The transfer of Arctic Council leadership in 2023 from Russia to Norway will not end the uncertainty over the organization's activities and role, but China is positioning for a greater role regardless of how things evolve. On May 11, Norway took over the two-year rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council, ending Russia's troublesome term. Oslo has been forthright in noting that the Arctic Council cannot simply pick up activities as if things are normal with Russia, but neither can there be effective Arctic cooperation without some engagement with Moscow or at least Russian entities. As the Arctic Council seeks to resume activities and balance the political isolation of Russia, China has offered its services as a friendly mediator to bridge the gap with Russia. Beijing also signed security and economic development deals with Moscow, ensuring China a stronger voice as the future of Arctic governance comes into question.

From Cooperation to Competition
The Arctic Council long stood as a post-Cold War example of cooperation between Russia, the United States and Europe — an area that was supposed to be ''a genuine zone of peace and fruitful cooperation,'' as then Soviet Communist General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev said in his 1987 speech in Murmansk. In 1991, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the eight nations with Arctic territory began a series of dialogues and agreements that ultimately led to the formation of the Arctic Council in 1996. The Council has served in many ways as the gatekeeper of the Arctic, coordinating scientific research, managing political, social and economic relations among members, and driving management and regulation of the broader Arctic region. While the Arctic Council has expanded to allow observer states a role, including China, the eight Arctic nations have jealously guarded their central position within the organization and in global Arctic governance as a whole.


Despite Russia's military actions in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, the Arctic Council continued to keep itself largely separate from strategic competition below the Arctic Circle. In part, this was intentional. The Arctic Council has no mandate to discuss or deal with military issues and, in fact, precluded them from its agendas, thus insulating it from shifting geopolitical balances. But as Russia began rebuilding its Arctic military infrastructure in the late 2000s and through the 2010s, the United States began to take note. In 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo challenged protocol to criticize Russian and Chinese Arctic actions on the eve of the Arctic Council meeting. While most Council members continued to adhere to the restriction on addressing security matters, things changed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, a year after Moscow took the chairmanship of the Council. In March 2022, the so-called Arctic 7 (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the United States) issued a statement suspending their involvement in the Arctic Council. A few months later, they resumed limited cooperation within the Council framework, but only on issues that did not involve Russian participation.

Moscow had stepped into the role of Arctic leadership with grand ambitions and a focus on Arctic development, despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis having interrupted Arctic collaboration. Russia holds the largest land territory in the Arctic, has the largest Arctic population, and by far the largest Arctic economy of any of the Council members, and Moscow had adapted to changing ice patterns to both re-strengthen its Arctic defense and expand its goals for Arctic resource extraction and transit routes. Scientific cooperation in the Arctic was dependent on Russia's participation, given its large territory. The decision of the Arctic 7 not only stopped their work with Moscow but interrupted the interaction of many of the observer states.

U.S. and European sanctions on Russia and the rising cost of a longer-than-expected war in Ukraine forced Moscow to shift its Arctic development priorities, slow many planned infrastructure projects and refocus its attention on collaboration with China and non-European states. The accession of Finland to NATO and the likely inclusion of Sweden soon added another layer of complication to peaceful Arctic coordination, as the Arctic Council will now be split between NATO and Russia, leaving no even nominally neutral parties as core members.

Disruptions to Arctic Cooperation
The Arctic 7 decision to suspend Council activities triggered concern not only in Moscow but among the Indigenous representatives to the Council and the Observer states, none of which were consulted before the decision was made. This will further complicate Norway's ability as chair to bring some sense of normalcy to the Arctic Council activities, even beyond the question of what to do about Russia. The Arctic Council is unique in providing Permanent Participant status to six Arctic Indigenous People's organizations, giving them consultative rights that were overlooked or denied in the political decision to suspend Council activities during Russia's tenure. The Arctic 7 will need to either address the concerns of the Indigenous representatives or risk providing Russia or China space to exploit the perceived sidelining of their voices. China has used formal and informal relations with Indigenous groups and organizations to spread its influence, claiming itself as the voice of the developing world, anti-colonialism and the rights of the under-represented (despite restrictions on many of its own domestic ethnic minorities).

The sidelining of the observer states, particularly those from Asia, may present an even bigger challenge for the future of the Arctic Council and the protection of Arctic governance by Arctic nations. Beijing has been clear that the Arctic Council activities are largely untenable without the inclusion of Moscow, given Russia accounts for half of the Arctic region. China has also long argued that the Arctic should be an area of international, rather than regional, management, as Arctic issues have global impacts. There are hints from India that New Delhi is unsatisfied with the idea of a divided Arctic Council or being constrained by Western interests in engagement with Russia in the Arctic. India continues to walk a careful line between its economic and security cooperation with Moscow and Washington, but New Delhi is benefitting from Russian Arctic energy supplies, and Indian companies may find new opportunities in Russian Arctic development as Moscow seeks to replace Western investment and participation and simultaneously expand Arctic infrastructure and resource extraction.

Moscow has already offered small incentives for non-Arctic states to increase bilateral and multilateral cooperation with Russia in the Arctic, bypassing the Arctic Council and Western involvement. Russia's Ambassador at Large for the Arctic Cooperation Nikolay Korchunov extended an invitation to Gulf and Latin American countries to participate in Arctic research at the Snezhinka international scientific station in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region earlier this year. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko offered to reciprocate joint scientific and climate research with Vietnam, offering Hanoi opportunities for Arctic research parallel to Russia's tropical research in Vietnam. Russian Minister of the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic Alexei Chekunkov also suggested that the BRICS nations could cooperate in Arctic research at Russia's facilities on Svalbard. On the security front, Russia hosted representatives from 13 countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan, at its recent Secure Arctic 2023 exercises in April, and Moscow and Beijing signed a memorandum between their coast guards to increase cooperation in Arctic maritime security, with plans for Chinese participation in future multilateral Arctic maritime exercises.

China's Arctic Opportunities
As Russia reaches out to strengthen Arctic cooperation with non-Arctic nations to counter its likely continued shunning at the Arctic Council, China has expanded its cooperation with Russia and offered to serve as a bridge between Russia and the Arctic 7 to ease potential tensions in the Arctic. China has numerous bilateral projects and agreements with European Arctic nations and a robust Arctic research program on land and at sea. Beijing has been a source of funding for Arctic projects and development and has expanded its reach among the Arctic and ''near Arctic'' nations through its active role in the Arctic Circle, a wider body of Arctic-interested nations focused on economic activity. For China, the Arctic is a region of rich future resources, an alternative route between Asia and Europe and a key region for managing strategic competition with the United States (the shortest route for missiles and aircraft is via the Arctic, not across the Pacific). The international implications of climate change and changes in the Arctic provide Beijing with a clear case to reshape global governance away from a North-Atlantic-centric model toward one where China and the Global South have a greater say.

The United States is increasingly concerned about China's growing Arctic interest and activity (Chinese fishing fleets have operated just outside U.S. Arctic territory, Chinese naval vessels have carried out operations with Russia near Alaska and Chinese maritime and atmospheric research including ships and balloons — seen as dual-use — have frequently operated over and around the U.S. Arctic). But many European nations and numerous non-Arctic states elsewhere see China as an important partner for funding, joint research, or as a voice to expand involvement in Arctic governance beyond Russia and the Arctic 7.

China, then, is positioned to see its role in Arctic management, investment and governance expand. Beijing is critical for Russia's continued development of its own Arctic resources as well as the Northern Sea Route, and China's involvement may encourage other countries, like India or the Gulf States, to take a more active role in Russian Arctic and Far East resources and infrastructure. China is also a bridge for Norway and the Arctic Council to facilitate some slow, targeted resumption of scientific cooperation with Russia, particularly in environmental monitoring. Beijing will use this leverage and its own investments as assets to press for a broadening of international involvement in the Arctic region, pushing back against the closed model represented by the Arctic Council.

Beijing sees the Council as one more example of the North Atlantic powers retaining a stranglehold on international rules. Given the significance of the Arctic for global climate monitoring (not to mention current and future resources), Beijing is asserting its right to play a more active role in Arctic development and governance. The rift in the Arctic Council provides China with the opportunity to press this claim both inside and outside the Arctic Council. However the Council manages its split relations with Moscow, Beijing has already gained ground in concrete terms in the Russian Arctic and is likely to see its role rise within the Arctic Council, even if only as a mediator with Russia. While the United States and its partners are likely to push against a stronger Chinese role, that may only serve to further weaken the cohesiveness of the remaining Arctic 7, giving Beijing even more justification to press for a new global governance model for the Arctic, one where it will play a lead role and further reshape the Post-WWII U.S.-led international order.

Crafty_Dog

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Chang: China prepping to wage war in the Arctic
« Reply #80 on: July 27, 2023, 09:40:31 AM »
China to Wage War on America from the Arctic
by Gordon G. Chang  •  July 24, 2023 at 5:00 am

This month, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported that the Shanghai-based Polar Research Institute of China revealed that "China has completed the field testing and evaluation of an underwater listening device that will be deployed on a large scale in the Arctic Ocean."

The innocuous-sounding report tells us that China intends to wage war against the United States and Canada from the Arctic.

Other than this buoy, the institute said, China had "never planted a listening device there."

That assertion is not truthful. Last fall, the Canadian military, according to Canada's Globe and Mail in February, removed buoys placed by China in Canadian waters in the Arctic.

"China is now covertly preparing the groundwork for militarization of the largely undefended northern territory and critical Arctic sea routes." — Charles Burton of the Ottawa-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute, to Gatestone, July 2023.

All of this data is needed to listen for submarines, specifically American ones. China wants to track and destroy American subs from the top of the world before they can flood into Asian waters.

The U.S.'s generous "engagement" approach to China has resulted in China obtaining observer status in the Arctic Council although no Chinese territory is in or near the Arctic.

China already has two permanent research stations in the Arctic, one in Norway and the other in Iceland. That is two too many.

[F]or China the Arctic is primarily a military domain. In addition to the buoys they are leaving in the Arctic, the Chinese are surveilling the area by air. The spy balloon that flew over the lower 48 states this year initially crossed into Alaska and Western Canada.

China is not only pressing the United States and Canada from the north. In the other direction, China is establishing military bases in South America and the Caribbean and is infiltrating saboteurs across the border with Mexico. The Biden administration is allowing a hostile state to go hard against America from all sides. A menacing China is now everywhere in the Western Hemisphere.


[F]or China the Arctic is primarily a military domain. In addition to the buoys they are leaving in the Arctic, the Chinese are surveilling the area by air. Pictured: The Chinese research vessel and ice-breaker Xuelong arrives in China's Fujian province on June 27, 2010, in preparation for sailing to the Arctic. (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
This month, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported that the Shanghai-based Polar Research Institute of China revealed that "China has completed the field testing and evaluation of an underwater listening device that will be deployed on a large scale in the Arctic Ocean."

The innocuous-sounding report tells us that China intends to wage war against the United States and Canada from the Arctic.

China had installed the "polar subglacial shallow surface acoustic monitoring buoy system" on floating ice in the Arctic on August 9, 2021. Information obtained by the device was uplinked to Chinese satellites.


ccp

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Re: The New Race for the Arctic and Antarctica:
« Reply #82 on: May 14, 2024, 08:30:20 PM »
I bet the penguins want a cut!
Aren't they the original indigenous inhabitants?

I imagine it would be very expensive to get to market .
Antarctica must have been part of a continent that was tropical at one time.......