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Originally appeared at Katehon
On May 13, the US-Nordic Leaders Summit is scheduled to take place at the White House in Washington D.C. Attending the summit is U.S. President Barack Obama together with Prime Ministers of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and the President of Finland.
The summit will be an opportunity for the Atlanticist hegemon to confer with its Scandinavian allies in the European “Rimland” about issues ranging from “European security, transatlantic trade, and the promotion of democratic values” (GOS 2016) as well as “terrorism, violent extremism, environmental and nuclear security” (Cassella 2016) and “coordinating Arctic issues […] and addressing the migration and refugee crisis in a humane and orderly way” (TWH 2016).
Now, “European security” can, in the context of Scandinavia, only be in relation to a military buildup, and possible containment, against Russia. Here it is worth noticing that both Norway and Finland share borders with Russia, while Denmark and Sweden are strategically located at the entrance to the Baltic Sea.
In February, the Russian-based news network RT could report that NATO are stockpiling tanks and military equipment in Cold War-era caves in northern Norway, close to Russia (RT 2016). Norway is, together with Denmark and Iceland, part of NATO and since Russia has not threatened any of these countries this can only be seen as an Atlanticist attempt at a Kennan-style containment strategy, undoubtedly related to the “coordinating Arctic issues” question.
The Atlanticists’ interests in the Arctic have multiple facets. First, from a geopolitical perspective, building military bases (and maybe placing nuclear weapons?) there would offer the USA and its NATO allies strategic and close proximity forces to Russia. Secondly, there is the prospect of obtaining natural resources, most notably oil, which is crucial for the US economy. This, for the Atlanticists, is a zero-sum game, the goal is to claim vital areas of the Arctic before Russia, and possibly China, has a chance to.
Moreover, since all these states are members of the Arctic Council this will allow the US to bypass Russia, which is also a member of the council, on the issues related to this region. Russia, though, has already responded by rebuilding several Soviet-era military bases in the Arctic as well as some brand new ones (Bender 2015).
Whether the Arctic will turn out to be a new conflict area between the Sea-based civilization and Land-based civilization only time will tell. The consequences of the US-Nordic Leaders Summit will be revealed to us in time, but Russia seems fully committed to counter the Atlanticist containment strategy in the Arctic region and protect its national interests despite adversity.
Bender, Jeremy (2015): “Russia just put the finishing touches on 6 new Arctic military bases”, Business Insider, December 7, 2015. [online] Available at:http://uk.businessinsider.com/russia-equipped-six-military-bases-in-the-arctic-2015-12?r=US&IR=T
Cassella, Megan (2016): “Obama to host summit with Nordic Leaders in May: White House”, Reuters, March 18, 2016. [online] Available at:http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-obama-nordic-idUSKCN0WK1LX
Government Offices of Sweden (GOS)(2016): “Prime Minister to attend Leaders Summit with President Obama, March 16, 2016. [online] Available at:http://www.government.se/press-releases/2016/03/prime-minister-to-attend-summit-with-president-obama/
Russia Today (RT)(2016): “NATO storing tanks & military hardware in Cold War-era Norwegian caves”, Russia Today, February 19, 2016. [online] Available at:https://www.rt.com/news/333045-nato-tanks-norway-cave/
The White House (TWH)(2016): “Statement by the Press Secretary on the U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit”, Office of the Press Secretary, March 18, 2016. [online] Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/03/18/statement-press-secretary-us-nordic-leaders-summit