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    Russia's Cold War on the Arctic



    Russia's Cold War on the Arctic
    The German Marshall Fund - Halifax International Security Forum
    In 2007, Russia laid claim to parts of the Arctic seabed—a historic first and an act that has been challenged by
    Canada, the United States, and Norway. These littoral states as well as Denmark, Finland, and non-littorals such
    as China and Japan, have looked at the Arctic as an area for possible new transit routes, energy supplies, and fishing
    grounds. Growing fossil fuel needs and depleted national fisheries are forcing countries to look for new areas of resource wealth. Climate change and innovations in technology (including seabed mapping, GPS, and transportation) are making it easier for countries and private companies to explore the Arctic.While many are looking at the Arctic as an area of opportunity (a "frozen Saudi Arabia" as some have dubbed it), the
    littorals are concerned about the national security implications of a navigable sea lane or "Northwest Passage" through
    the Arctic and northern Canada connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. Increased military and commercial
    shipping traffic, environmental damage, smuggling, and trafficking, and therefore increased national expenditures
    of resources for monitoring and possibly reacting to such activities in the Arctic all come into play. Arctic security has been debated more and more in recent years. NATO, numerous governments, and nonprofit organizations have held discussions on the range of issues relating to the changing dynamics in the Arctic. The upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen will be yet another opportunity for nation states and parties to raise these concerns. And while all the littorals have officially declared their goal of maintaining the Arctic as a region of peace and cooperation, to date, no clear enforceable game plan or solution has been agreed to that will actually provide for such an end state. Meanwhile, Russian officials declared in October that they would begin undertaking a three-year extensive research effort—using Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreaking fleet—to map the Arctic seabed in order to justify its territorial sovereignty claim, something that may well encourage other nations to do the same.