In the Arctic, the ice appears to be receding, and this presents an opportunity for countries to organize exercises in the region.
Among those are the UK, US and Canada, who all allegedly need more exercises in the region, in order to likely attempt and counter Russia’s expansion.
In October 2020, Arctic sea ice has reached almost its minimum extent on record. According to simulations, the Arctic ice will completely melt in summer by 2035.
Against this backdrop, world powers, including the United States, Russia, China, Canada, Great Britain and China, are building up their military presence in the region to ensure their geopolitical and economic interests.
Warming in the Arctic has intensified not only environmental concerns, but also the development of the region’s natural resources. It is expected that this year deliveries along the Northern Sea Route to Russia will reach 32 million tons, and 80% of this figure falls on oil and gas from the Yamal fields.
On the American side, the Trump administration has pledged drilling lease sales in the Arctic national wildlife reserve by the end of the year. And it reversed an Obama-era ruling that would have impeded the proposed Pebble Mine, thus setting the stage for a gold and copper project that environmentalists say will harm the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.
In 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that it was “America’s moment to stand up as an Arctic nation”, the US deployed destroyers off Russia’s northern coast in May – and for the first time since the 1980s. In July, the air force released its inaugural Arctic strategy.
In September 2020, Senator Dan Sullivan said the US will deploy 100 F-22 and F-35 fifth-generation fighter jets to Alaska, where US aircraft have intercepted Russian warplanes at least a dozen times this year.
Under the guise of global warming and the melting of the Arctic ice, a reconnaissance of the future energy heart of the planet is underway. 70% of the potential (undiscovered) world hydrocarbon reserves are hidden on the shelf of the Arctic seas.
The longest Arctic shelf belongs to Russia.
In this regard, it should be expected following the ecological problem of the melting ice caps, there would be a need to introduce into the public consciousness the thesis about the “universal” importance of the Arctic and the need for international regulation of not only production, but also shipping along the Northern Sea Route.
US and Russian submarines are reportedly hiding under the ice in numbers not seen since the cold war, and last week a vessel operated by Russia’s main directorate of deep-sea research returned from its maiden voyage through Arctic seas.
“No one seriously believes that Russia would deploy its recently developed combat snowmobiles to Resolute Bay, or that the US would drop paratroopers on the other side of the Bering Strait,” the Guardian reports.
However, a new cold war appears to be brewing.
“The likelihood of hot conflict involving land-based troops is very low,” said Lillian Hussong, a research associate at the Washington-based Arctic Institute. “What I am concerned about is competition, with that comes the likelihood of miscalculation. A lot of risk in the Arctic has to do with miscalculation and not understanding adversaries’ intentions.”
“I’ve done 117 interviews with American military officials and diplomatic officials stationed in Arctic areas, and the Chinese are always brought up,” Hussong said. “And when I ask about threats to us in the Arctic, sometimes Russia isn’t brought up at all, but after climate change China comes next.”
The involvement of “near-Arctic state” China in the region further complicates the picture. It just sent its second icebreaker, Snow Dragon 2, on a maiden voyage to gather sediment cores in the Arctic Ocean.
Beijing-based Cosco is the only one of the five major container shipping companies sending vessels through the Northern Sea Route each year as part of the “Ice Silk Road” initiative with Russia.
Exercises are likely to ramp up, with the UK and Canada joining the United States in the region more actively.
Washington has vowed to curb Russia and China’s expansion, more deployments, exercises and propaganda is expected.
One thing most experts agree on is that Russia, China, US, UK and Canada will continue their deployments, exercises and much more in the Arctic in their bid to exploit the vast resources the melting ice caps promise, but that a hot war is currently unlikely, it will more than likely be a Cold War-like standoff that already appears to be taking shape.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- U.S. Air Force To Deploy Approximately 150 F-35, F-22 Fighter Jets To The Arctic
- Russia Delivers First Arctic Oil To China Via Northern Sea Route
- US Air Force Releases Revised Arctic Strategy