The Arctic Ocean is a Russian Lake

Share

Hits: 285

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!
The Lies that are Used for Denying the Legitimacy of Crimea’s Breakaway
Crimea’s breakaway from Ukraine and rejoining Russia is treated in the US-and-allied world as being justification for the explosive re-emergence in 2014 of America’s Cold War NATO alliance as being a restored war against Russia; and, so, whether or not that ‘justification’ is truthful is the paramount geopolitical issue in our era; and it will therefore be discussed and (via the links here) documented in this article.Though international law is generally an unenforced mess that is interpretable far more by partisanship than by any clearly applicable principles, the US Government does quite blatantly violate it on a routine basis, by ...
READ MORE
Why didn’t Washington Dissolve NATO after Collapse of USSR?
NATO has expanded dramatically after the collapse of its primary rivals, the USSR and the Warsaw Treaty Organization, Canadian Professor Michael Jabara Carley notes, posing the question whether NATO was founded as a defensive or an offensive alliance.The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance aimed against the Soviet Union, was established on April 4, 1949; and only seven years after the formation of NATO the Warsaw Treaty Organization was established bringing together eight nations (versus 15 NATO member-states).So, who was the real “aggressor”? What alliance was an offensive one?“There has been much discussion recently of NATO in the mainstream and alternate media. Why was ...
READ MORE
Provoking Moscow: NATO Needs Enemies to Justify Its Existence
NATO was always more about offense than defense, about America controlling the policies of Alliance members, increasing their numbers, pressuring them to stress militarism more than they’d chose otherwise – and selling them lots of US weapons.When founded in April 1949, Soviet Russia was a North Atlantic Alliance enemy in name only, ravaged by WW II – needing years after Stalin’s April 1953 death to regain pre-war normality, peace essential to restore it.Washington controls NATO, covering 75% of its budget, calling the shots, installing subservient Alliance officials to serve its agenda.At a time when no US enemies exist, they’re invented ...
READ MORE
Post-Maidan Ukrainian Anti-Semitism: Tragic “Blowback” Resulting from U.S. Interventionist Foreign Policy?
The foreign policy of the United States in the post-Cold War era, driven by a doctrine of Exceptionalism and managed by a neoconservative strategy, has been responsible for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Nato’s war on Libya in 2011 and the covert war waged in Syria using Islamist proxies. It was also at the root of its involvement in the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Ukraine in 2014. But the geopolitical advantage intended in each enterprise has brought the proverbial blowback.The results are plain to see. Libya is now certifiably a failed state. Accompanying the destruction of ...
READ MORE
“The Civilized World” Strikes Again: Donald Trump, a Complete Puppet of the Military Industrial Complex
It is apparent given the timelines and the lack of time given to verifying the validity of accusations concerning the gas attack in Homs, Syria, that plans had already been coordinated for such an attack. Watching the mainstream media the viewer receives the impression from the wording of the announcers reports and questions for the “experts” that the matter was already decided in favour of the U.S. military strike on the airbase. I see pictures of Colin Powell at the UN holding up glossy photos of supposed chemical weapons manufacturing plants. It demonstrates to a high degree how easily manipulated Trump ...
READ MORE
The Great Powers and Global Politics
TerminologyA meaning of the term Great Power(s) (GP) in global politics from the beginning of the 16th century onward refers to the most power and therefore top influential states within the system of the international relations (IR). In other words, the GP are those and only those states who are modelling global politics like Portugal, Spain, Sweden, France, the United Kingdom, united Germany, the USA, the USSR, Russia or China. During the time of the Cold War (1949−1989) there were superpowers[1] as the American and the Soviet administrations refered to their own countries and even a hyperpower state – the ...
READ MORE
America’s “Humanitarian War” against the World
The following  text is a point by point thematic summary of Prof. Michel Chossudovsky‘s presentation at the Science for Peace Conference, Academy of Sciences, Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, 15-16 August 2016.IntroductionHistorically, science has supported the development of the weapons industry and the war economy. “Science for Peace” indelibly requires reversing the logic whereby commissioned  scientific endeavors are directed towards supporting what President Eisenhower called “The Military Industrial Complex”.What is consequently required is a massive redirection of science and technology towards the pursuit of broad societal objectives. In turn, this requires a major shift in what is euphemistically called “US Foreign Policy”, namely ...
READ MORE
Al-Qaeda’s Balkan Ties: The Bosnian Connections
Should anyone have had any doubts, the barbaric murder of US photojournalist James Foley fully exposes the true nature of the Islamist terrorists menacing the Middle East. Unfortunately, the savagery exhibited in what happened to James Foley was not unique—beheadings and suicide bombings have become standard tactics in the Islamist terrorists’ way of war. Just weeks before Foley’s murder Kosovo jihadi Lavdrim Muhaxheri posted similar photos of himself “in action” in Iraq. Such Islamist-terrorist ritual beheadings were seen during the Bosnian jihad as well, when extremists would produce “promotional videos” of their efforts showing the decapitation of Serb prisoners, or, in another case, ...
READ MORE
Countries Destroyed by Hillary Clinton
In an email sent to his business partner and Democratic fundraiser Jeffrey Leeds, former Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote of Hillary Clinton, “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.”Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State during Barack Obama’s first term was an unmitigated disaster for many nations around the world. Neither the Donald Trump campaign nor the corporate media have adequately described how a number of countries around the world suffered horribly from Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy decisions.Millions of people were adversely harmed by Clinton’s misguided policies and her “play-to-pay” operations involving favors in return for donations ...
READ MORE
Breaking the Constitution: Lithuania Seeks the Permanent Presence of the U.S. Troops on its Territory
As it appears Lithuania expects major changes in the near future. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius was on an official visit to the United States of America from the 20 to the 24 of February 2017. During a visit he said that Lithuania seeks the permanent presence of United States troops in its territory."We have requested stationing of military forces in our country on a more permanent basis - not only rotational but also more permanent," the minister told BNS in the telephone interview from Washington D.C.Linas Linkevicius' call for the permanent presence of United States troops in Lithuania territory ...
READ MORE
Selective Solidarity with the Victims of Terrorism
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
Pompeo the Warmonger Supports Authoritarian Regimes
On January 2 [2019, editor] US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Brazil, and his Department noted that in discussions with Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo they “highlighted the importance of working together to address regional and global challenges, including supporting the people of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua in restoring their democratic governance and their human rights.” Pompeo declared that the US and Brazil “have an opportunity to work alongside each other against authoritarian regimes.”From this we gather that Pompeo is a strong advocate of democratic governance and will always make it clear that the United States supports unfortunate people living in countries having “authoritarian ...
READ MORE
Opus Dei: Neofascism Within the Catholic Church
What we are seeing today in the fight over birth control is a revival of a very old, and very dangerous kind of Catholicism. It is not one supported or practiced by most Rank and File Catholics. It is a kind of Catholicism which has done irreparable harm. It is a kind of Catholicism unfit for existence in the modern world.It was the underpinning of the regimes of Mussolini in Italy, The National Catholicism of Francisco Franco, in Spain; The Parti Rexiste in Belgium; The Irish Blueshirts; The Croatian Ustaše, the Nazi puppet government in Croatia, and ultimately, was the ...
READ MORE
Je Suis ISIS
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"]SaveSave
READ MORE
The Occupied Golan Heights: How Israel Thrives from Syria’s Natural Resources
We all know how the story goes. The Golan Heights is Syrian territory that has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War. It was then controversially annexed in 1981, despite the UN calling the efforts “null”, “void” and “without international legal effect”. Today it is still internationally and legally recognised as Syrian land, but Israel persists with its possession.Of course, such persistence can prove to be quite lucrative when the land is abundant in resources – especially land as fertile as the Syrian Golan – a generous source of gushing waters and game changing oil reserves.In fact, the ...
READ MORE
Book Presentation on the Genocide of the Christians of Asia Minor
On Sunday September 24, 2017, the Pan-Pontian Federation of USA and Canada in collaboration with another 15 organizations celebrated the publication of the new book “Genocide in the Ottoman Empire: Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks, 1913-1923”, at the Hellenic Cultural Center in Astoria. The book consists of academic papers presented at the 2013 Academic Conference that the Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center (AMPHRC) organized at the Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Illinois.The event featured a keynote presentation by the editor of the book and noted historian Mr. George Shirinian. Mr. Shirinian is the Executive Director of the Zoryan Institute, an ...
READ MORE
Saudi Arab Islamist beheading Serbs in Bosnia in 1992
A Serb from Bosnia, General Mladic, protected Muslim civilians and gave them buses, food, and water to leave fighting zones. There was no genocide over the Muslim population in Srebrenica like mainstream media want you to believe – there was no genocide over Bosniaks because all Bosnian Muslims victims were jihad fighters who had been killed during fight (in war). Even the so-called „tribunal“ in The Hague for ex-Yugoslavia admitted that there was no genocide!The President of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s, Alija IzetbegovićIn Srebrenica, there was a massacre over Serbian civilians: the youngest victim was a 4 years old boy ...
READ MORE
Parallels Between Israel and 1930s Germany
"Please don’t write about Ya’ir Golan!" a friend begged me, “Anything a leftist like you writes will only harm him!"So I abstained for some weeks. But I can’t keep quiet any longer.General Ya’ir Golan, the deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, made a speech on Holocaust Memorial Day. Wearing his uniform, he read a prepared, well-considered text that triggered an uproar which has not yet died down.Dozens of articles have been published in its wake, some condemning him, some lauding him. Seems that nobody could stay indifferent.The main sentence was: "If there is something that frightens me about ...
READ MORE
Mark Twain on the Americans
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
Who Are the Albanians?
Vladislav B. Sotirovic, “Who are the Albanians? The Illyrian Anthroponomy and the Ethnogenesis of the Albanians – A Challenge to Regional Security”, Serbian Studies: Journal of the North American Society for Serbian Studies, Vol. 26, 2012, № 1−2, ISSN 0742-3330, 2015, Slavica Publishers, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA, pp. 45−76Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & 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 ...
READ MORE
The Lies that are Used for Denying the Legitimacy of Crimea’s Breakaway
Why didn’t Washington Dissolve NATO after Collapse of USSR?
Provoking Moscow: NATO Needs Enemies to Justify Its Existence
Post-Maidan Ukrainian Anti-Semitism: Tragic “Blowback” Resulting from U.S. Interventionist Foreign Policy?
“The Civilized World” Strikes Again: Donald Trump, a Complete Puppet of the Military Industrial Complex
The Great Powers and Global Politics
America’s “Humanitarian War” against the World
Al-Qaeda’s Balkan Ties: The Bosnian Connections
Countries Destroyed by Hillary Clinton
Breaking the Constitution: Lithuania Seeks the Permanent Presence of the U.S. Troops on its Territory
Selective Solidarity with the Victims of Terrorism
Pompeo the Warmonger Supports Authoritarian Regimes
Opus Dei: Neofascism Within the Catholic Church
Je Suis ISIS
The Occupied Golan Heights: How Israel Thrives from Syria’s Natural Resources
Book Presentation on the Genocide of the Christians of Asia Minor
Bosnian Muslim Genocide against the Serbs in Srebrenica Municipality in 1992-1995 (Photo Album)
Parallels Between Israel and 1930s Germany
Mark Twain on the Americans
Who Are the Albanians?

FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share

About White Nettle

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published on this website. The views of the authors presented on this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically, or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government, or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically, or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu