MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 27th April, 2021) US posturing and unconcealed desire for global dominance may turn the Arctic into a new hotbed of confrontation between Russia and the United States, experts told Sputnik, adding that since the existing Arctic forums do not address hard security matters, discussion of the issue is urgently needed.
US State Secretary Antony Blinken has recently said that Russia's growing role in the Arctic could lead to the emergence of a "new theater of conflict." He accused Moscow of "exploiting this change to try to exert control over new spaces" by modernizing its bases in the Arctic and building new ones, "including one just 300 miles from Alaska."
Blinken is not the first US official who draws attention to Russia's activities in the region. Washington has repeatedly stressed that it was closely monitoring military activities of Moscow in the Arctic and is committed to protecting US interests in the region. In early April, reports emerged that the US navy will build the necessary infrastructure in Norway to allow its patrol aircraft to monitor Russian submarines off the coast of the European country.
Reacting to the accusations, Moscow has repeatedly stressed that the increasing military activity of the US and NATO and the weakening of confidence-building measures in the Arctic can throw the world several decades back, to a Cold War-like situation. Russia has recently implemented a series of initiatives aimed at boosting the development of its Arctic region. In particular, the government pledged support for business activities in the area, designed to improve the investment environment in the region. Also, in October, Putin signed an executive order on the Strategy for Developing the Russian Arctic Zone and Ensuring National Security that envisaged the creation of 200,000 new jobs in the region by 2035.
DISCUSSIONS ON REGULATIONS IN ARCTIC URGENTLY NEEDED
Speaking about US-Russia relations in the Arctic, Dick Zandee, Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Security Unit of the Research department at Netherlands Institute for International Relations "Clingendael," believes that existing Arctic forums do not address hard security matters and that the mandate of the Arctic Council even explicitly excludes military matters.
The Arctic Council was established in 1996 in accordance with the Ottawa Declaration and is a high-level intergovernmental forum that promotes cooperation in the region, especially in the field of environmental protection. The council includes Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. Russia will chair the Arctic Council in 2021-2023.
"What is urgently needed is the launch of discussions - to begin with between all eight Arctic states - on regulations, conflict prevention and risk reduction measures in order to have a set of basic arrangements on the military use of and access to the Arctic region. Perhaps a new Arctic Security Forum should be established for that purpose," Zandee explained to Sputnik.
When asked why the Arctic lures the US so much, Zandee replied that this is simply due to the global competition.
The increasing geopolitical competition influences the Arctic region as the melting of the ice makes the region more accessible, Zandee said.
"Therefore, the risk of military confrontation between the major powers - China, Russia and the US - in the area is increasing. However, all Arctic states, including Russia and the US, still cooperate well in the context of Arctic [forums], of which the Arctic Council is the most important one," he added.
US SEEKS GLOBAL DOMINANCE IN EVERY SPHERE
In the current state, the confrontation between Moscow and Washington cannot be avoided, Srdja Trifkovic, a Serbian-American writer on international affairs and foreign affairs editor for the paleoconservative magazine Chronicles, told Sputnik.
"The concept of full-spectrum dominance has been the guiding light of US foreign and security policy since the end of the Cold War, every square inch of every land and every ocean [is] vital [to] the US interest," he said.
Not a single spot can be left without the US attention, according to the expert.
"Everything becomes focused on the promotion of one and only thing and it is actively aggressive, pro-active offensive posture towards anyone who tries to assert national and state interests, which are not completely in line with the acceptance of the US global hegemony," he explained.
"They [the US] are extremely upset that due to the global warming it is likely that Russia will be able to develop a Northern Sea route from Europe to the Far East that will bypass the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean and the Straits of Malacca. Because in geopolitical terms, the Suez Canal, the straits of Aden and the straits of Malacca are the choke points that the US Navy can easily close at any time," he said.