DrThe Arctic is a very extreme region. The Climate change It appears there as clearly as it does anywhere else. The temperature rises faster, and the ice keeps melting. But this also spurs intense desires in the region. Once the ice melts, tensions build up. It is about valuable raw materials, about gas, oil and rare earths. It concerns dissolved free trade routes. The global powers are trying to maintain their demands, just as the small countries in the north are.
A new chapter in the struggle for the future opens in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. The country is relinquishing the presidency of the Arctic Council, which it has held since 2019. In addition to eight foreign ministers, representatives of the region’s indigenous people are also expected to attend in Reykjavik. Founded in 1996, the Arctic Council aims to help balance the interests of countries bordering the Arctic. In addition to Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Canada, the council also includes the United States and Russia.
And here is where it gets complicated. So far, the council has mainly focused on coordinating maritime research and rescue in the region. Security issues were excluded. In doing so, they are moving more and more countries, and foreign ministers have been making more or less clear statements about this for days. And this Thursday, of all the people, Russia will assume the presidency of the council for the next two years. The Russian government announced that it will become the president as it will Vladimir Putin It ordered the development of cooperation between member states, for example environmental protection and economic development.
There’s no denying that cooperation is good for the Arctic, but there are concerns now. US Secretary of State Anthony Blink He made it clear even before meeting in Reykjavik that he saw the danger of military armament in the Arctic. “We have to prevent the region from becoming militarized,” Blinken said. There is concern that increased military activity in the Arctic increases “the risk of accidents” and threatens “the common goal of a peaceful and sustainable future for the region.”
The background to this is the growing Russian presence in the Arctic. They follow them closely not only in Washington, but also in Copenhagen and Oslo. Satellite images show how Russia is building military bases on its border with the North Pole. This is indisputable under international law, but the US side is concerned that the Kremlin will use the bases to operate outside its borders and control parts of the Arctic that could soon be free of ice due to climate change.
Allegations collide in the Arctic, and there is great competition for resources on the sea floor. Russia, Canada and Denmark have submitted conflicting requests to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which can in turn extract their claims. This is important because countries bordering the Arctic can claim an economic zone extending up to 200 nautical miles – measured from the borders of the respective mainland. Russia’s claim to the Arctic has also been marked with a Russian flag made of titanium on the ocean floor since 2007. Russia has proudly displayed some bases, including air defense systems.
The Russian Ministry of Defense confirms that the long-range bombers can also take off and land there. Television journalists, including Americans, recently transported it to a new air base in the Arctic archipelago Franz Josef Land: “Arctic Three-Leaf,” which is triangular shaped and in Russian tricolor. You want to show strength. The Russian Foreign Minister said: “Yes, we are witnessing my lamentations that Russia is developing military activity in the Arctic.” Sergey Lavrov Monday. “We are responsible for ensuring that the Arctic coast is safe and that everything our country does there is completely legal and legitimate.” On the other hand, Norway, for example, is trying to attract NATO to the Arctic; This will also be taken up in Iceland, Lavrov said.