The Seas Are No Longer Asleep Beneath The Ice
The natural storerooms of Arctic latitudes contain up to 80% of gas reserves, 90% of nickel and cobalt. Not to mention oil - a special subject. According to the UN, the reserves of "black gold" in the region make up 90 to 100 billion tons. Furthermore, the Arctic has rich deposits of diamonds, gold, platinum, tin, manganese, nickel and lead.
Officially, only the Russian Federation, the United States, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Denmark have direct access to the Arctic and the right to own its resources. However, more than 20 states, including Belgium, Iceland, the UK, Germany, Japan, China and others have made a claim for the Arctic reaches.
Russia stands up to its right for an Arctic shelf for more than 10 years, after having applied to the UN Commission on the Law of the Sea to expand the boundaries of the shelf beyond the 200-mile economic zone in 2001 first among world powers.
Given that Russia practically owns its largest sector - about a third of the entire Arctic shelf, the region is of great strategic importance. A decision was made to establish the development of energy resources, create a transport and port structure in the area by 2020.
To finally clarify this issue, Russia intends to resubmit the application to the United Nations in 2015, providing comprehensive data confirming the rights to own a large area of the Arctic region. In particular, it's the Lomonosov Ridge in the Arctic Ocean, which is also claimed by Denmark, Greenland and Canada. If successful, Russia will expand its Arctic territory by 1.2 million square kilometers.
At the same time, while strengthening its influence on the international Arctic arena, Russia is constantly being harassed by the United States and Western Europe.
Washington and EU, using the events in Ukraine as a guise, bring down more and more economic sanctions and restrictions on Russia, including interference in the development of the Arctic shelf. US, EU, Canada and Australia referring to their geopolitical interests, banned the supply of technology and equipment that enable deep-water drilling in the North Sea and other works to Russia.
However, politicians are often in conflict with the business world because of interests' mismatch. Major Western business concerns, such as Exxon Mobil, Total, BP and Statoil are still set up for an effective and long-term partnership with Russia.
The Arctic race for the planet's resources already shows not only economic, but also a military-political aspect. Different states are building up its military presence in the Arctic. At the same time, the region was and remains the administrative-territorial area adjacent to Russia with its seas and islands.
Russia's major step on the way to resumption of military presence in this important region was the establishment of military bases in the Novaya Zemlya and the New Siberian Islands, which will operate in the Arctic on a permanent basis. Units created on the basis of the Russian Northern Fleet separate operational command will carry year-round combat duty there.
A year ago, the ships of the Northern Fleet took an unprecedented hike in the Arctic ice to restore the abandoned "Temp" airfield on the New Siberian Islands. The whole atomic surface fleet of Russia led by heavy nuclear missile cruiser "Peter the Great" has been involved in the campaign. The reconstructed airfield is currently being used not only for its intended purpose, but also as a training base for Russian servicemen. A massive airborne training near the North Pole in March this year became the indicative in this respect - the largest in the last few years.
By a decree signed by president Putin, a Joint strategic Command "North" operates in the Arctic since December 2014. The structure was formed in accordance with the "Stretegy for Russian Federation' Arctic zone development and national security policing 2020" adopted by Russian president. The document contains a whole set of means aimed at providing Russia's national interests in the Arctic. The main goals are international cooperation, providing of military security, guarding of the national borders and a complex social-economic development of this vast region.
Today, in the age of large-scale development of the North, we're due to say that Russia has every opportunity to defend its interests in the Arctic, strengthen military power and use all resources for the development of the Arctic Circle, creating favorable conditions for the life of nations and people of the Russian North. Therefore, the participants of the Arctic arms race should understand that "cold war" methods should be replaced by a reasonable pragmatism and close cooperation for the benefit of joint development of the resources of the Arctic shelf for peace and prosperity of mankind.