The Arctic Ocean is a Russian Lake

Share

Hits: 263

In 2007 a Russian submersible planted a flag on the sea floor at the North Pole. This sparked a flurry of pearl-clutching in the West and idiotic concerns for Santa Claus’ safety (but keep calm, Canada will defend him!) drowning out the rational comment of Christopher Westdal, a former Canadian Ambassador to Russia:

In the Arctic, for a start, Mr. Putin is playing by the same Law of the Sea rules we endorse. The truth is that if we could have, we would have, long ago done much the same thing the Russians have just done. We were not amused, but Russia’s gambit was an entirely legitimate use of an impressive technology that we wish we had to highlight a claim.

The operative statement here is “if we could have, we would have”. The truth is that only Russia can and that means that the Arctic is essentially a Russian lake, or, if you prefer, a Russian skating rink. First of all, about 160 degrees of the circle – or 43% – is Russian, quite a bit more than Canada at 22%, Denmark/Greenland at 19% or the USA and Norway at 8% each. But it’s not just that more of it is Russian, the main point is that Russia can and the other four can’t.

Most of the Arctic is frozen most of the time and icebreaker ships are necessary. According to this list of operational icebreakers, Canada has six, the USA four, Denmark three, Norway two. Russia has more than seventy. Russia’s fleet is modern, the others are old. Russia has the only nuclear-powered icebreakers – eight in service according to Wikipedia. The Arktika is the world’s largest and most powerful icebreaker capable of operating through three metres of ice; there are three more in the works. But an even larger class is coming: four metre ice; construction began in July. Russia’s icebreaker capacity is so enormous that one of them spends its time running tourist cruises to the North Pole. None of the other Arctic countries has anything like this. The USA is planning to build more to replace its elderly fleet; Canada is “exploring options“.

The principal reason for Russia’s construction of such powerful icebreakers as the Project 10510 (aka Leader or Лидер class) is to turn the “Northern Sea Route” into a year-round useable shipping route. The route runs from Murmansk (ice-free year-round and therefore accessible to world shipping) along the top of Russia, through the Bering Straits into the Pacific Ocean – a much shorter route than anything else. At present, its potential is offset by the facts that it has very thick ice at the eastern end and that current icebreakers move slowly at their icebreaking limits. The intention is that the Leader class icebreakers will be able to move through the heavy ice at normal ship speeds (about 12 knots). All this is explained in here by John Helmer.

There are considerable geostrategic implications – this route is not just a way for Russia to earn transit fees. At present Chinese goods bound for Europe travel south, through the straits in Malaysia and Indonesia, through the Indian Ocean and on either through the Suez Canal, Mediterranean and Gibraltar or round Africa. This route has many narrow passages that can be interdicted by hostile powers; much of it is within reach of NATO. If the Northern Sea Route became routinely useable throughout the year, China would be able to more quickly and cheaply ship goods to its European markets. Using the Northern Sea Route will also put these goods far from the reach of the US Navy and its interminable “freedom of navigation” patrols. Likewise, goods coming to China – especially energy from Russia – will be out of reach of hostile powers. The Northern Sea Route, when added to the fast rail network being built by Beijing through Mackinder’s “World Island“, will be a geopolitical fact of no small significance: a response, if not checkmate, to the five-century power of Mackinder’s “world islands”. Both Beijing and Moscow routinely look farther into the future than Western capitals do and Moscow’s work in the Arctic is an example of this forward planning.

The Arctic is thought to have a great deal of natural resources, particularly petroleum. In such a large and inhospitable territory there is much to be explored but already there are many estimates: one ten-year old source estimates that 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas reserves (most in the Russian Arctic) and 13% of its oil reserves may be there. Another source reports that more than 400 onshore oil and gas fields have been discovered north of the Arctic Circle, more than two-thirds are in Russia. One of the largest Russian petroleum sources is in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Region from which over half of Russia’s oil comes but there are many other oil and gas fields in the Russian sector. Modern technology has made it more possible than previously to tap these resources and Russia is in the forefront of the exercise: Rosneft has just begun what promises to be an enormous operation in the Taymyr peninsula,

Given the inaccessibility of the Arctic, the most efficient way to transport natural gas is to liquefy it. Norway appears to have pioneered LNG technology in cold climates with its plant at Hammerfest that started operations in 2007. Two years later Russia opened its first LNG plant in Sakhalin (52 degrees north). In 2017 another plant was opened in the Yamal Peninsula at 71 degrees north (the same latitude as Hammerfest but much colder weather). To carry this LNG to its customers a fleet of icebreaking LNG carriers has been built in South Korea; the first, the Christophe de Margerie, completing a voyage from Norway to South Korea in August 2017 without needing the support of icebreakers. As of December 2019 the fifteenth and final of the fleet had taken on board its maiden cargo at the Yamal LNG port bound for China. That was the 354th LNG cargo from the port in the first two years of its existence. Once again we see that the country that supposedly “doesn’t make anything” actually makes big plans and executes them. Work on the plant begun in July 2012, it opened for business in December 2017 in time for the appearance of its fleet of specialised ships. The owner, Novatek, is building a third LNG plant in the Yamal region. Rosneft is building its own fleet of  icebreaker LNG carriers for  its Arctic LNG 2 project. Meanwhile an LNG plant for Alaska has been in concept since 2014 and thus far seems to have produced nothing expect planning permission. In Canada there are  “feasibility studies“.

Petroleum supplies are by no means the only natural resources in the Arctic: there are many minerals there as well. In all these areas Russia is well advanced in exploration and exploitation. For many years Russia has maintained a coal mine in Spitzbergen, the Taymyr Peninsula has large coal reserves that India is interested in, there’s a large gold mine in Chukotka and Norilsk has been a  producer of nickel, copper and palladium for years. Russia’s Arctic helium production is the subject  of a breathless NYT piece. But these are just samples of what is likely there and the Northern Sea Route, when it is routinely operational, will open more areas for exploration, exploitation and transport.

The Arctic is a formidable environment and work, let alone mere survival, requires enormous amounts of energy the sources of which may be far from the sites. Moscow has an answer for that too – nuclear power stations. Specifically floating, and therefore moveable, nuclear power stations. The first of these, the Akademik Lomonosov, has been operating for more than a year in Pevek, Chukotka. A second is under construction and the current plan calls for seven in total. But, if the project succeeds – and so far so good – there will likely be more. Again, none of the other Arctic nations has anything like this, even though the USA actually pioneered the concept.

Of the five Arctic nations, only three seem to operate military bases in the true Arctic area. The USA has a number of facilities in Alaska but all of them are south of the Bering Strait but it does operate a significant air base at Thule in Greenland (76 degrees north) (Google maps). Canada operates CF Station Alert at 82 degrees north; but it is a relatively small huddle of buildings reachable only by air: (Google Maps). A naval facility is being constructed at the top of Baffin Island and is expected to become operational in 2022. This paper describes Canada’s efforts in its 22% of the Arctic and admits “Significant gaps remain between its current abilities and desired end-state, yet there has been a steady improvement in its basic skill sets”. Two of the Arctic nations – the USA and Russia – operate fleets of nuclear-powered submarines which can travel under the arctic ice but only Russia has submarines actually based in the territory at Polyarnyy in the Kola Peninsula.

By far the largest military force stationed in the Arctic is the Russian Northern Fleet. Not only does this include considerable surface and submarine elements but it fields a strong aviation component and coastal troops complete with shore defence missiles and air defence assets. To say nothing of nuclear forces – here are four Bulava ICBMs being fired from an SSBN in the White Sea. Altogether a very strong and balanced force with direct exit into the polar ocean. The Northern Fleet is continually exercised as the Russian MoD site shows. The other Arctic nations have nothing to compare: they may make occasional excursions into the Far North but only Russia is there all the time.

But where Russia really has a military presence in the Arctic are the bases that it has built. In no way can CFS Alert’s huddle of huts be compared to the amazing Trefoil base on Alexandra Land at 80 degrees north (Google maps.) It is said to be able to provide “comfortable” living for up to 150 soldiers for a year and a half. Another base, the Northern Clover base (250 troops) on Kotelny Island, is in operation, equipped and exercised. Another base is being built in Tiksi. There are at least five airbases on the Russian Arctic archipelago. And it’s not just troops and aircraft – a couple of years ago Arctic-adapted vehicles were shown in the Victory Day parade – they include air defence systems, all-terrain vehicles and armoured fighting vehicles. A version of the T-80 tank is being refurbished for Arctic service. Meanwhile, in 2013 Canada was testing a snowmobile but nothing seems to have happened with it.

The reality of Russia’s possession of its Arctic territories is met with the usual hyperventilation in the Western media “Russia sees its assertive military posture…”; “What Is Behind Russia’s Aggressive Arctic Strategy?“; “Arctic Aggression: Russia Is Better Prepared for a North Pole Conflict Than America Is: Not good“; “Meeting Russia’s Arctic Aggression“; “Putin is making a power grab for the Arctic“. And so on. “Assertive”, “aggression”, “power grab” are the words of the propagandist: what Russia is actually doing is defending and exploiting its territory. Just as we would. If we could.

In President Putin’s Arctic policy statement of March 2020:

Russia’s main national interests in the Arctic are as follows: to ensure Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; preserve the Arctic as a territory of peace and stable mutually beneficial partnership; guarantee high living standards and prosperity for the population of the Russian Arctic; develop the Russian Arctic as a strategic resource base and use it rationally to speed up national economic growth; develop the Northern Sea Route as a globally competitive national transport corridor; and to protect the Arctic environment, the primordial homeland and the traditional way of life of the indigenous minorities in the Russian Arctic.

A bit of propaganda there, but mostly cold hard national interest.

Russia has made the plans and followed through – the other Arctic nations mostly talk about it or complain.

To repeat Christopher Westdale:

“If we could have, we would have.”


Originally published on 2020-12-13

About the author: Patrick Armstrong was an analyst in the Canadian Department of National Defence specialising in the USSR/Russia from 1984 and a Counsellor in the Canadian Embassy in Moscow in 1993-1996. He retired in 2008 and has been writing on Russia and related subjects on the Net ever since.

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics, and international relations.

 

READ MORE!
Srebrenica: Bosnian Muslim Jihad Killings of 3,500 Christian Serbs
The image of Srebrenica tells us more about the reality of the majority of the media and of course the “Muslim victim card” is being used in order to cleanse the Bosniak Muslims. After all, from enslaving Orthodox Christians during their brotherly love with the Turkish slave masters of the Ottoman Empire to having Muslim SS units who supported Adolf Hitler; then “victimhood” is needed in order to justify their history and culture.Of course the wishy-washy brigade will tell us that the Ottoman period was enlightened and that the system of taking the eldest Christian boy (devshirme system) in the ...
READ MORE
Vietnam War and Yemen False Flags
The missile attack on a US ship off the coast of Yemen was a major news event, but the subsequent follow up story, that it may never have happened, was either ignored by mainstream media or intentionally covered up. The whole thing has the same odor as the Gulf of Tonkin incident that never occurred.Does history repeat itself?  Sure does seem like it. That is if you compare America’s entry into the Vietnam civil war, with America’s latest entry into the war in Yemen.Don’t be mistaken, we have been at war with Yemen for a year now. America sided with ...
READ MORE
British Parliament Confirms: Libya War was Based on Lies
The UK Parliament just confirmed what the alternative media has been saying for years.Specifically, a new report from the bipartisan House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee – based on interviews with all of the key British decision-makers, review of documents, and on-the-ground investigations in Africa – found that the Libyan war was based on lies, that it destroyed the country, and that it spread terrorism far and wide.The War Based On Bogus Intelligence … Like the Iraq WarInitially, the report finds that the threat to civilians from Libyan  government forces was dramatically overstated:Former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, who introduced ...
READ MORE
The US/NATO Orchestration of the 2014 Maidan Coup in Ukraine
The 70 Years of NATO: From War to War,by the Italian Committee No War No NATODocumentation presented at the International Conference on the 70th Anniversary of NATO, Florence, April 7, 20191. The operation conducted by the USA and NATO in Ukraine began in 1991 after the Soviet Union collapsed and the Warsaw Pact, which was a part of the Soviet Union, also disintegrated. The United States and its European allies moved immediately to take full advantage of the new geopolitical situation.2. Ukraine – whose territory acts as a buffer between NATO and Russia and is crossed by energy corridors between Russia and the ...
READ MORE
Donald Franciszek Tusk: “Blood is Thicker than Water”?!
Donald Franciszek Tusk, (born 22 April 1957) is a Polish politician and historian. He has been President of the European Council since 1 December 2014. Previously he was Prime Minister of Poland (2007–2014) and a co-founder and chairman of the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) party.Tusk began his public career as an activist in his home town of Gdańsk, supporting Solidarity and organizing his fellow university students. With the exception of one four-year stretch, Tusk has served in the Third Republic Sejm (parliament) continuously since its first elections in 1991. He was Vice Marshal (deputy speaker) of the Senate from 1997 ...
READ MORE
Videos on Ex-Yugoslavia: Reverse Side of the Truth
Documentary films about ex-Yugoslavia not seen on global corporate mass-media news. For instance:US documentary movie "RETLINES" with English subtitle from 1991 about Vatican smuggling Croat Nazi Ustashi to South America in 1945Ratlines were a system of escape routes for Nazis and other fascists fleeing Europe at the end of World War II. These escape routes mainly led toward havens in South America, particularly Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile. Other destinations included the United States and perhaps Canada and the Middle East. There were two primary routes: the first went from Germany to Spain, then Argentina; the second from Germany ...
READ MORE
What is Power in International Relations?
Power in politicsPower is the ability to make people, states, movements, organizations, or things to do what they would not otherwise have done. It is a matter of fact that politics is seen to be about might rather than right.  It can be said that, in essence, politics is power or in other words, the ability of some international actor to get desired results of his/her political behavior by using whatever instruments (legal or not, moral or not, etc.). In the very broadest sense of its meaning, power can be understood as the ability to influence the results of certain ...
READ MORE
Air Strikes against Syria: Who are the War Criminals?
America is coming to the rescue of Al Qaeda under a humanitarian mandate. The unspoken agenda is to undermine the Liberation of Aleppo. The pretext and justification for these actions are based on America’s “responsibility to protect” (R2P) the “moderates” in Aleppo from Syrian and Russian attacks and bombing raids.On October 3, the US State Department announced the suspension of bilateral relations with Russia pertaining to Syria (see document below), in response to which, France’s foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault was called upon to intermediate at the diplomatic level. Pointing his finger at Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Jean Marc Ayrault casually accused Moscow ...
READ MORE
The Libyan Scenario for North Korea
On March 23, 2018, the US media published an interview with the newly-appointed National Security Advisor John R. Bolton, where he stated that the only solution for North Korea is complete disarmament – following the example of Libya under Muammar Gaddafi. This scenario is exactly what Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un need to discuss during their negotiations.John R. Bolton is well-known as a hardliner regarding Pyongyang. During his work for the Department of State in the 2000s, he was one of the most furious opponents of any dialogue with North Korea, and more recently he advocated a preventive strike against ...
READ MORE
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.[wpedon id="4696" align="left"]Save
READ MORE
Poland and Lithuania are Escalating Events in Belarus as they did with Maidan
On August 9 [2020], presidential elections were held in Belarus with five candidates bidding to be head of state. According to the Central Election Commission, the incumbent president, Alexander Lukashenko, won in the first round with over 80% of the votes. Mass protests began in Belarus right after the announcement of the preliminary election results. People went to the streets, expressing their dissatisfaction with the results of the elections that they believe were unfair. Mass protests turned into riots and there were clashes between rioters and the police. Many people were detained and injured, and two protestors died.Representatives of the ...
READ MORE
Voting Discrimination in America
The Supreme Court’s acceptance of a case about the allocation of voting districts will have consequences far beyond the millions of U.S. taxpayers its ruling may deprive of representation. A decision that only counts voters, rather than all persons, will undermine the very foundation of the Republic.The American Revolution was fought over “taxation without representation,” and those who wrote the Constitution carefully apportioned taxation and representation among the states “according to their respective Numbers . . . of free Persons . . . and . . . three-fifths of all other Persons.” The authors clearly equated We, the People with ...
READ MORE
The Harvesting of Palestine. The Zionist Project Prevails?
A picture taken on July 4, 2018 from the Israeli-annexed Syrian Golan Heights shows displaced Syrians from the province of Daraa staging a protest (top L) calling for international protection, in the Syrian the village of al-Rafid, near the border fence with Israel. / AFP PHOTO / JALAA MAREYWith the recent failed bid by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League at the UN security council, to try and end Israelis’ occupation of Palestinian land and to create a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders, it seems an appropriate moment to review the situation for Palestinians since 1915.What ...
READ MORE
A Geopolitical Convergence Between the US and Russia
The end of the Cold War era in 1989 brought during the first coming years a kind of international optimism that the idea of the „end of history“ really can be realized as it was a belief in no reason for the geopolitical struggles between the most powerful states. The New World Order, spoken out firstly by M. Gorbachev in his address to the UN on December 7th, 1988 was originally seen as the order of equal partnership in world politics reflecting „radically different international circumstances after the Cold War“.[1]Unfortunately, the Cold War era finished without the „end of history“ ...
READ MORE
Greater (Islamic) Albania: United States Project against the Orthodox World?
Wednesday, December 5, 2012, the Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha advocated granting Albanian citizenship to all Albanians, wherever they reside. This statement was made during a visit of the city of Vlora where the independence of the Albanian state was declared, only 100 years ago. At the time Albania had just liberated itself from Ottoman rule.This declaration follows a separate statement, collective this time, that Sali Berisha had made with his Kosovar counterpart Hashim Thaci a few weeks ago, promising the union of all Albanians. The place was, I must say, well chosen since the vast majority of the inhabitants ...
READ MORE
The Death of Milosevic and NATO’s Responsibility: Was He Assassinated?
On March 11, 2006, President Slobodan Milosevic died in a NATO prison. No one has been held accountable for his death. In the 12 years since the end of his lonely struggle to defend himself and his country against the false charges invented by the NATO powers, the only country to demand a public inquiry into the circumstances of his death came from Russia when Foreign Minister, Serge Lavrov, stated that Russia did not accept the Hague tribunal’s denial of responsibility and demanded that an impartial and international investigation be conducted. Instead, The NATO tribunal made its own investigation, known ...
READ MORE
Conflicts among Churchgoers in Ukraine – Non-Peaceful Transfers to the OCU not Covered by Media and State
Interactive maps at several websites show that within three months there have been more than 500 voluntary transfers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate's (UOC-MP) parishes to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine recently created by Patriarch Bartholomew and president Poroshenko. The UOC-MP parishes total 12,000, so this is a significant value. However, according to the OHCHR Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine from 16 November 2018 to 15 February 2019, not all of these transfers were voluntary – in some cases they were undertaken by local authorities or far-right organizations, and those members of the UOC-MP ...
READ MORE
America’s “Long War” Against Humanity
America’s hegemonic project in the post 9/11 era is the “Globalization of War” whereby the U.S.-NATO  military machine –coupled with covert intelligence operations, economic sanctions and the thrust of “regime change”— is deployed in all major regions of the world.  The threat of pre-emptive nuclear war is also used to black-mail countries into submission.This “Long War against Humanity” is carried out at the height of the most serious economic crisis in modern history. It is intimately related to a process of global financial restructuring, which has resulted in the collapse of national economies and the impoverishment of large sectors of ...
READ MORE
How the United States Bombed the USSR on October 8, 1950
Few people know that, in fact, in those years, overseas aircraft inflicted an unpunished blow on the Soviet territory. It happened in the Far East in October 1950.On October 8, 1950, at 4.17 p.m. local time, two Lockheed F-80C Lockheed "Schutting Star (Meteor)" violated the state border of the USSR and, having deepening into the territory for almost a hundred kilometers, attacked the Soviet military airfield Suhaya Rechka 165 kilometers from Vladivostok, in the Hasan district. As a result of firing by the US Air Force seven Soviet squadron aircraft were damaged, one completely burnt  in the parking lot.That autumn ...
READ MORE
The 2004 “March Pogrom” in Kosovo by Muslim Albanians
The 2004 “March Pogrom” in Kosovo: A book of photo evidence! (Making ISIL of a Greater Muslim Albania). Such books you will not find at any kind of the Western mass-media or university teaching programme's reading list.Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics, and international relations.[wpedon id="4696" align="left"]Save
READ MORE
Srebrenica: Bosnian Muslim Jihad Killings of 3,500 Christian Serbs
Vietnam War and Yemen False Flags
British Parliament Confirms: Libya War was Based on Lies
The US/NATO Orchestration of the 2014 Maidan Coup in Ukraine
Donald Franciszek Tusk: “Blood is Thicker than Water”?!
Videos on Ex-Yugoslavia: Reverse Side of the Truth
What is Power in International Relations?
Air Strikes against Syria: Who are the War Criminals?
The Libyan Scenario for North Korea
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Poland and Lithuania are Escalating Events in Belarus as they did with Maidan
Voting Discrimination in America
The Harvesting of Palestine. The Zionist Project Prevails?
A Geopolitical Convergence Between the US and Russia
Greater (Islamic) Albania: United States Project against the Orthodox World?
The Death of Milosevic and NATO’s Responsibility: Was He Assassinated?
Conflicts among Churchgoers in Ukraine – Non-Peaceful Transfers to the OCU not Covered by Media and State
America’s “Long War” Against Humanity
How the United States Bombed the USSR on October 8, 1950
The 2004 “March Pogrom” in Kosovo by Muslim Albanians

FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share
Share
Publish your articles on global politics, history, and international relations online & advertise your website for a moderate charging fee at www.global-politics.eu (contact: globalpol@global-politics.eu). For more details see the Submission section on our website. We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We mainly rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics, and international relations. Follow us on our social platforms!
+ +