Wikileaks has revealed yet another pressing revelation. The leaks discovered on the 12th of May, has revealed that the scramble for Arctic resources is also sparking military tension between Arctic nations, the U.S and NATO.
The rush for resources, especially oil has lead to an increase military threat to the Arctic. The Russian ambassador to NATO has been quoted saying “The twenty-first century will see a fight for resources, and Russia should not be defeated in this fight… Nato has sense where the wind comes from. It comes from the North.” Russia has also appointed a new FSB Coast Guard presence in the Arctic to protect Russian Territory. This is due to acknowledgement that there have been efforts to drive them out of the Arctic.
Despite these movements to protect their territory in response to the looming pressure they feel to leave , Russia has recognised that “Confrontation (in the Arctic) will do no good. We would do best to agree to pool our efforts and set up joint structures to use the Arctic’s natural resources.” Because of a “cold peace” at present in the Arctic this idea to pool efforts in utalising the Arctic’s natural resources may work. Although Russian Navy head Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky has been quoted as saying, “While in the Arctic there is peace and stability, however, one cannot exclude that in the future there will be a redistribution of power, up to armed intervention.”
The Russian interest in the Arctic is not isolated to just the Russians, the U.S. has also voiced an interest in Greenland’s natural resources that also fall into the Arctic zone. With an impending climate change in motion, you must be wondering don’t these people care about what the exploitation will do to the environment? To answer your question, no they frankly don’t care at all. To quote directly from the leak, “The GOR is ambivalent on global warming, seeing both positive and negative effects from the melting Arctic ice. Analysts discount the near-term viability of the Arctic as a major source for commercially feasible hydro-carbons, and point out that there are more easily accessible fields that Russia has not yet exploited.” In the leaks, the Russian Security Council has also released a policy that illuminates the potential economic benefits of climate change for Russia. “The prospect for an (even seasonally) ice-free shipping route from Europe to Asia, and the estimated oil and gas wealth hidden beneath the Arctic sea floor. The shipping route would reduce the distance of a voyage from Europe to Asia by 40 percent.”
The Danish foreign minister Moeller has also been reported saying to U.S Diplomats that “if you stay out” [of a key maritime convention] “then the rest of us will have more to carve up in the Arctic.” The reports go on to say “Moeller also mused that the new shipping routes [open because of ice melt] and natural resource discoveries would eventually place the region at the centre of world politics.”
With all this piqued interest in the Arctic, there is bound to be military tension arising threatening the peace. Not only this but this new found interest will have detrimental effects on the ecology and environment of the Arctic. Instead of actually addressing the best possible way to help prevent the extreme effects of climate change, our governments are instead seeing the economic benefits and thinking of their wallets.