Forget global warming as things look to be heating up in the Arctic thanks to rising tensions between Russia and the United States (as well as several other Western nations) over expansion at the North Pole. Like most territorial disputes, this one seems to derive from vital resources located at the North Pole and people are asking whether this dispute will lead to a new type of cold war.
A report from the Associated Press reveals growing concerns:
Russia has sought to assert its influence over wide areas of the Arctic in competition with the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway as shrinking polar ice from the warming planet offers new opportunities for resources and shipping routes. China also has shown an increasing interest in the region, believed to hold up to one-fourth of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited estimates that put the value of Arctic mineral riches at $30 trillion.
There are a number of issues with this situation including whether the nations can agree on the vast resources available in the Artic, who will have access to them, and whether they should even be accessed given environmental concerns. Considering the wealth of resources, environmental concerns could easily be dismissed by any nation looking to get ahead on its fossil fuel supplies.
intergovernmental body that promotes research and facilitates cooperation among Arctic countries on issues related to the environmental protection and sustainable development of the Arctic region. Created in 1996, the council is made up of Denmark, Canada, Norway, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.
The tension seems to be mounting, with an Associated Press report stating:
As Russia assumed the rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council on Thursday, the U.S. rallied other members to oppose Moscow’s plans to set maritime rules in the Northern Sea Route, which runs from Norway to Alaska, and its desire to resume high-level military talks within the eight-nation bloc. Those talks were suspended in 2014 over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
The effort reflects growing concerns in Washington and among some NATO allies about a surge in Russian military and commercial activity in the region that is rapidly opening up due to the effects of climate change. Russia has expressed similar suspicion about NATO’s motives.
There are accusations being hurled including security concerns about various nations encroaching on nations’ borders and the usual type of saber-rattling made when nations want to get things their way. With “Sleepy” Joe in office, Russia may feel that the U.S. President (whose inability to find his face mask as well as difficulties climbing stairs) is a pushover. Let’s just hope that the usual forces of greed and nationalism don’t lead to conflict or environmental exploitation.