Suddenly expressednth initiative of Donald trump regarding the possible acquisition by the United States of the island of Greenland in Denmark has stirred up the world media. Trump’s words in the world is perceived differently: some as a joke, others as yet another inappropriate outburst shocking the President, and some as disregard of existing international norms. But a re-affirmation of the intention of the trump to discuss with Denmark the acquisition of the island showed that to perceive the news must be very seriously. After all, Greenland may become an important factor in geopolitical games of world powers in the Arctic. “Apostrophe” understood in political, economic and military controversies surrounding the Arctic ocean.
The Russian threat in the North
“Arctic ice is melting, and, consequently, Russian go” – with these words, the Ranger instructors motivate soldiers during last year’s Arctic exercises of NATO. The intensification of Western countries in the Arctic, including military, were indeed caused by melting of glaciers, because it paves the way for expansion into this region, as well as – the Russian threat. And on the North it is very noticeable. None of the competing States is not even close to a length of the oceanic shelf, such a large number of icebreakers and bases, as the Russian Federation. Moreover, realizing their advantage, the Kremlin has made the Arctic one of the main directions for the rivalry with the West.
“In Russia, the theme of the Arctic has become popular in recent years as a kind of compensation for failures in other areas of competition with the West, where Russia has shown itself ineffective opponent. And in the Arctic, is considered, it has an absolute advantage, which puts this region as a priority for government initiatives of the Russian Federation. In Russian politics there is a clear intention to integrate the Arctic geo-economic resources in the global economy on favorable conditions for Russia. In addition, people involved in the field of Arctic exploration, have a corrupt interest, because here pouring a lot of money, and track their distribution is rather difficult,” – said “Apostrophe” political analyst Andrei Okara.
However, it is not necessary to treat the situation in the Arctic as a uniquely advantageous for the Kremlin. “The advantage of Russia in the Arctic by far, but at the same time, there are loopholes that allow the West to “beat” the Russians. First, Russia is a member of the International Convention on the law of the sea, under the terms of which the Russian share of the Arctic shelf is not so significant. Second, States may compete with Russia, and they are already working on opportunities. In particular, the United States allocated $ 750 million to develop its own icebreaking fleet. Also to this strategy include attempts to trump for the purchase of Greenland,” explained “Apostrophe” political analyst on international Affairs George Kuhaleyshvili.
However, the threat of excessive penetration of Russia in the Arctic region has intensified the Western States and has become their unifying factor. The last few years, NATO is actively conducting military exercises in the region and in expert circles, say that of “the Great Northern fortress”, which reliably separated the hostile blocks during the Cold war, the Arctic has become an arena of rivalry.
The past few years, NATO has been actively carrying out military exercises in the region
“The military component in the rivalry between States in the Arctic present, although more as a form of political pressure. First, Russia restores military airfields in the Arctic. Secondly, the active use of a sufficiently powerful Northern military fleet,” said George Kuhaleyshvili.
Do not forget that with a common enemy – Russia, the Arctic countries – members of NATO (Norway, Denmark, Iceland, USA, Canada) have their own interests that often put them in the position of rivals. And this greatly complicates the Arctic geopolitical tangle, and does not allow to consider it through so habitual for Ukrainians the prism of “bad Russian good Americans and Europeans”.
A great redistribution of the Arctic on the horizon
The most obvious piece of “the Arctic pie” are the deposits of resources. According to preliminary data (a significant portion of the Arctic has not yet been studied), on the shelf of the Arctic ocean is concentrated to 25% of the world’s oil reserves. Such huge reserves of black gold, albeit not too easy prey, can not attract the developed countries. Also not the last role plays and the transport potential of the Arctic, which each year is only growing due to the melting of glaciers. As a consequence, and the Arctic and geographically distant from the North pole of the state are included in the economic, infrastructural and military race.
“The distribution of the Arctic now looks like an attempt each state to pull the blanket. As example is the rivalry of the USA and Canada. As the melting of glaciers opens the passage of ships between the Northern Islands of Canada. Canada insists that it is their internal waters, while the U.S. is interested in the fact that they are treated as international waters. After all, the Northwest passage can be used to transport oil and gas produced offshore of Alaska to the East coast of the United States. In the same direction can be interpreted and suggestions trump Denmark to sell Greenland. They are seriously exacerbated the rivalry in the region. After all, Denmark is the window of the European Union in the Arctic. For the EU the question of energy security is a priority, and the Arctic could be in the future some spare airfield”, – said Georgy Kuhaleyshvili.
As in other regions of the world, the Arctic is also becoming a noticeable influence of China. China is interested in active development of the Northern and North-Western Maritime routes – the short ways to deliver Chinese goods to Europe and the US East coast. In addition, thanks to cooperation with the Arctic States, China gets a window of opportunity for direct infiltration into the waters of the Arctic ocean. In particular, joint projects, China has conducted with Norway, Denmark and Greenland, suffering in China even planned to build airfields, but due to the aggravation of rivalry with the US military bases which are located in Greenland, the initiative was canceled.
On the shelf of the Arctic ocean is concentrated to 25% of world oil reserves
However, despite the rather big sum of money and a significant number of participants of the Arctic geopolitical game, expect some serious competition out of the redistribution of political influence, it is not necessary. “All competition, all the attempts in the fight for the Arctic encounter a very serious barrier, which prevents today to realize the potential of this region. Because, as you know, the Arctic has very complex climatic conditions. The same oil production from offshore fields for which the on-going political struggle, is a very complex and costly, and not all countries have enough resources to its organization. And the prospects of further struggle and of energy production depend on the melting of glaciers,” explained George Kuhaleyshvili.
Arctic the interest of Ukraine
Although Ukraine, at first glance, far from the Arctic geopolitical passions, she also has an interest in the region. Since the Soviet Union we have the personnel and technological potential for the development of the Arctic territories. Therefore, in the light of the expansion in the Arctic, Russia is once again interested in labor resources from Ukraine. In these conditions, according to Andrei Okara, very important is cooperation of Ukraine and Norway.
“The recent visit of our Ambassador in Norway on the island of Spitsbergen, where the work of Ukrainian specialists, and they announced the extension of cooperation between Ukraine and Norway in the Arctic region, provoked a storm of angry comments from the Russians. Like, where are you, Ukrainians, to the Arctic to climb. Such a direction of cooperation with Norway is very promising because it allows to realize our human and technological potential, and to obtain economic benefits from the development of the Arctic”, – said the analyst.
George Kuhaleyshvili also agrees that participation of Ukraine in the struggle for the Arctic is due to economic interests. Besides, we have a serious enough human resources to Arctic research. “Ukraine is in this situation to act except as the equipment supplier, consultant and partner. To claim any deposits of Ukraine, which is not an Arctic state may not,” he adds.