The Arctic raises tensions between Russia and the United States

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is unequivocal: Arctic, “This is our territory!” On the eve of its talks, Wednesday and Thursday in Reykjavik, with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, within the framework of the Arctic Council, Moscow wants to define its territory in the far north. In recent weeks, signs of economic and military tension have already escalated.

After the siege of the Suez Canal in March, Russia hailed the benefits of its “Northern Route,” an ambitious Arctic project that provides new trade horizons between Europe and Asia. Around the same time, the Russian Army stepped up its maneuvers in its polar waters, simulating the destruction of an aircraft with the Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft systems and neutralizing a drone attack. While continuing to deploy the latest S-400 air defense systems.

The meeting in Iceland is expected to be tense. In the face of the Russian foreign minister and his desire to firmly consolidate his control over the region, the other seven countries bordering the Arctic Ocean (the United States, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland). The United States in particular is looking dimly at this increase in military power within a few hundred kilometers of its territory in Alaska and the creation of a region of heightened geopolitical tensions.

The extensive construction site of the “Route de Nord”

Sergey Lavrov is only repeating what President Vladimir Putin has been hammering out five years ago. The Kremlin chief has set very high standards for the vast “Northern Road” project, a new sea lane along the Arctic coasts that is increasingly navigable thanks to global warming and melting ice: an annual volume of 80 million tons will be transported by 2025 (47 for natural gas, 23 For coal, 5 for oil, 5 for heavy industrial products).

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The Russian President, who has strengthened the Russian military presence in the Arctic By reopening the Soviet bases , Ensures that, of the eight countries in the smallest ocean on the planet, Russia has the largest number of assets. On the surface of its territory and through its natural resources. More than 80% of Russia’s natural gas – which covers a third of European consumption – actually comes from these regions. To supply Nord Stream 2, the Russian gas pipeline to Europe at the heart of a geopolitical complex, Gazprom plans to exploit the new polar deposit, Pofanenko, with an area of ​​200 billion square meters.3 annually. It is located in Yamalo-Nenetsia, the heart of Russian production. About 90% nickel, 90% cobalt, 60% copper, 95% platinum, 100% barite and apatite concentrations also come from the Arctic. In total, the region accounts for more than a fifth of Russia’s exports and 10% of its GDP.

Send American bombers

Denouncing the offensive trends of NATO and Norway in the Arctic, Sergey Lavrov made it clear on Monday that it was a zone of economic influence for Russia, and affirmed his right to defend it. Il a certes prôné la relance de rencontres régulières entre les chefs des Etats-majors des huit pays membres du Conseil, afin de «faire baisser les risques sur le plan militaire», qui ont été suspendues depuis 2014 et l’annexion de la Crimée par Russia.

But the minister arrived in Reykjavik in an offensive manner, and criticized the United States for its presence Strategic bombers were sent in February He trained in Norway and deployed ships last year in the Barents Sea, in Russia’s exclusive economic zone. This malicious tone sets the stage for another summit meeting: the first possible talks in mid-June between them Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden.

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