Russian Aerospace Defense Force has deployed additional combat aircraft units near Russia's northern borders. The country’s authorities decided to take this step after Norway let US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers into its territory. These actions of the US government are connected with the Pentagon’s striving to strengthen its positions in the region by taking a large section the Arctic under its control.
In February, Air Force A-50 long-range radar detection and control aircraft arrived at the Olenya base in Murmansk 7. Additional aviation forces of the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces are also deployed there.
Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, the President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems and Doctor of History, told wek.ru about the highly complicated situation in the Arctic region.
Tough Argument is Expected
“Of course, Russia’s current positions have been strengthened enough in the Arctic,” Ivashov said. “Now, the country has military presence there. So, it is our response to the card which the US is playing in the Arctic region. After all, if Russia removes its troops out of the area, first, NATO ships might arrive taking it under their protection. Then various exploration companies will come into the picture there and so on. Chances are they will take everything away, and Russia will have to address the UN.
“The Arctic has a huge agglomeration of resources. Therefore, there will be a fierce dispute about the sovereignty over hydrocarbon reserves there. Russia wants to establish itself there legally. Especially when we see the arrival of armed forces of other countries that are laying claim to these natural riches.
Photo by: function.mil.ru
“To my thinking, the whole world respects the fact that Russia is developing a high-latitude Arctic version of the military grouping that is already deployed in these latitudes. Over the past two years, more than 360 buildings and facilities with a total area of over 413,000 m² have been put into operation. On Alexandra Land Island, construction of military base has been fully completed. It is the only facility in the world at 80 degrees north latitude. In total, it has 334 buildings and installations. The runway at the Nagurskoye airfield has been extended to 3.5 km. The facilities of the second stage of the military camp in Tiksi [on the shores of the Laptev Sea] for 300 servicemen of the Air Force compound have been put into operation.
“At present, Russia has a sufficient military grouping in the Arctic. Yet, it is being built up not so much for warfare as for pressure. In fact, it is a tool to strengthen this country’s economic, legal and geopolitical positions. It is unlikely that at present there will be any military actions in the Arctic because it serves no one's interest.
“It is very difficult to assess relations with our opponents only by the presence of military objects, personnel and those exercises that are regularly held there, up to landing at the North Pole that was done together with troops from Belarus.
Mass of Contradictions
“Yes, preparations are being made for possible future hostilities. However, that is not the main purpose today. Diplomatic reinforcement is also needed there. In fact, not only military but legal contradictions, too, are snowballing in the Arctic region. The US is guided by certain provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, which benefit that country only. Moreover, the US keeps peddling the proposal that the Northern Sea Route must not belong only to Russia. They consider it international.
Today, China is also mightily moving into the Arctic with an agenda of its own. It is still unclear whether these actions by Beijing are coordinated with Russia or whether China has an independent Arctic program. Frankly speaking, I believe that the latter is a more likely option.
To my thinking, in the near future, it will be diplomatic efforts that will become a priority in the Arctic. We see that the US, Canada and, to a lesser extent, Europe have their own policy and some kind of coordinated programs in the region. Meanwhile, Russia is left to itself. So, we have to do something. For instance, we should involve India as our supporter. Indians also have a claim to gaining influence in this region. They also have their interest in the Arctic.
In other words, we need to create some alliances, coalition groups, as well as international projects for the development and conservation of Arctic resources. Especially since the Arctic is not only about benefits. Let us recall that climate change is continues taking hold. Therefore, there is a need to jointly adopt some universal safety standards. We must stop disasters in this region like the catastrophe with British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico! So, today, we cannot say that there is absolute peace in the Arctic region.
There is a very broad spectrum of problems there. Unfortunately, we are still doing everything alone. In my opinion, it is necessary to create some kind of international consortium, to bring legal matters under control, and to implement economic agreements with the help of the art of both politics and diplomacy. Well, military strength is of great help, too.