Many countries seeking Arctic access

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by A.V., Mar 30, 2010.

  1. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    Although Arctic issues and those of the Arctic Ocean have only been discussed by the few littoral nations until now, it appears that the region will soon be reorganized on a grand scale.
    On March 29, Chelsea, Canada hosted a meeting of Arctic Ocean Foreign Ministers from Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway that share the shores of the Arctic Ocean.
    One thing is clear from the meeting: many other countries want access to the region. Nobody would dare tell China, who is openly eyeing the resource-rich Arctic, to keep out. The eventual re-division of the area's mineral resources seems inevitable.
    It is high time everybody stopped wondering how many non-Arctic nations want access to the region, including its oil and gas deposits. I addition, the Arctic has a unique natural feature giving it natural-monopolist status. Due to global warming, Arctic sea passages in northern Russia and Canada remain ice-free for increasingly longer periods.
    Year-round navigation would shorten merchant-marine traffic routes from China to Germany or the U.S. East Coast by 6,000-7,000 km in one direction.
    A carefully orchestrated effort by Ottawa to show international leadership on polar affairs by hosting an Arctic summit near Ottawa ended awkwardly Monday after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Canada for excluding aboriginal leaders and three northern nations, Iceland, Finland and Sweden, as well as representatives from other indigenous groups, from attending.
    "We need all hands on deck because there is a huge amount to do, and not much time to do it," Clinton said.
    She said Iceland, Sweden and Finland were also Arctic nations and had the same rights to resources in the Arctic Ocean and its seabed as the delegates of the upcoming conference on Arctic cooperation called "The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue" scheduled for April 22-23 in Moscow.
    This unprecedented Arctic forum will become the first large-scale project of the resurgent Russian Geographical Society, with RIA Novosti acting as manager. The conference is expected to include discussions on prospecting operations and the development of natural resources, including the Arctic shelf, environmental protection issues and expanding the region's transportation infrastructure.
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had to explain that the Arctic summit did not infringe upon the Arctic Council, a high-level inter-governmental forum addressing issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic.
    Established in 1996 at the initiative of Finland, the Arctic Council is considered the main regional organization comprising Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. In reality, the Council is even larger because the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, China, Italy and South Korea have already received observer status with it.
    Washington did not rebuke Ottawa and defend the uninvited parties for nothing. The United States and Canada have long been wrangling over large sectors of the Beaufort Sea. Consequently, any prospective allies could help settle this territorial dispute prior to the Arctic's division when claims will be voiced by almost everyone.
    Denmark regularly quarrels with Canada for staking claims in Danish-controlled Greenland. Canada also argues with the United States for the same reason. At the same time, Norway lays claim to 175,000 sq. km. of Russia's continental shelf in the Barents Sea.
    Moreover, Russia and the United States have not yet reached a consensus on a 1990 bilateral maritime boundary agreement in the north Pacific, also known as the Baker-Shevardnadze line/agreement, after the officials who signed the deal, the Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze and the US Secretary of State James Baker.
    Beijing which is also shifting its gaze in the direction of the Arctic has started converting its theoretical Arctic research programs into applied research. China's completely modernized Soviet-era Ukrainian-built Xuelong or Snow Dragon icebreaker, the largest conventional icebreaker in the world, currently plies Arctic waters.
    Although China has no right to own Arctic shelf deposits, it would like littoral countries to establish legal rules in polar seas, as well as transparent and understandable navigation regulations, to demarcate borders, oil and gas fields, etc.
    Consequently, China, the world's largest economy, would be able to more easily invest tremendous amounts in regional projects, to export its products and to receive imports accordingly.
    Russia, Canada, the United States, Denmark and Norway have always held a special interest in the Arctic Ocean by "right of birth." From now on, they will have to coordinate their "hereditary claims" with others. And this will be even more difficult than discovering the North Pole.
    The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin)

    ria novosti
     
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  3. VersusAllOdds

    VersusAllOdds Regular Member

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    It seems this one will be played by "finders-keepers" rules.
    I didn't find in the above post the recent Arctic activity by the Russians where they planted a Russian flag under the sea, in an area they "deserve by right" as you said. Seems they are finally taking a hardline stance in this, or at least I have an impression that they won't let this one go easily. I also expect China to be agressive in this one, given that this is maybe the first issue about new-found oil that Russia and China can influence on.

    Years ago, Russia was still healing from Soviet breakup, and China wasn't as strong as it is now. Hopefully, the two will show their teeth now that they can finally afford to do so.
     
  4. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    the situation has the possibility of escalating to 2 factions the US its allies and on the east RUSSIA and china together
    another great game is in prospect in the artic now but much will depend on the technological capabilities of each of these factions to extract the required resources at present russia and china is lacking to fully exploit the region compared to the western groups
     

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