TO HEAR THE BEAR TELL IT, THE WORLD IS GANGING UP ON RUSSIA IN THE ARCTIC. IN FACT THE BEAR IS HAVING A UNILATERAL MILITARY BUILD UP IN CONJUNCTION WITH HER OWN OVER REACHING TERRITORIAL CLAIMS. THE MOST VISIBLE MILITARY INTEREST IN THE HIGH ARCTIC HAS BEEN A NATION WITH NO ARCTIC COAST BUT ARTICULATING A HIGH LEVEL OF NATIONAL INTERESTS....THE DRAGON. MAYBE RUSSIA HAS THE RIGHT IDEA BUT HAS MISIDENTIFIED THE ENEMY. SOME TIME AGO THE RUSSIAN NEWS SERVICE RIANOVOSTI CARRIED A STORY ON RUSSIA'S 2014 NAVAL PLANS FOR THE HIGH ARCTIC:
|Three icebreakers, Russian Yamal (Arktika class), CCG Louis St. Laurent, USCG Polar Sea. Photo credit USDHS. We think this photo captures the reality of the situation in the Arctic at the moment with the much larger and more aggressive looking Russian Ice Breaker leading the smaller American and Canadian vessels.|
"MOSCOW, December 2 (RIA Novosti) – Russian naval forces are set to make the Arctic a priority region, boosting combat training and scouting lesser-known areas of the icy territory in 2014, a navy spokesman said Monday." To read the full story and details of next year's Russian build up click on the link below. Below the link we continue with our analysis.
Editorial Comment 1/14/2015: Continuing our review of the past year we find that the Arctic continues to be a Russian military priority but that it has hit a speed bump as 2015 opens. The global decrease in oil prices has slowed Russian exploration and production as prices per barrel have dipped below production costs. This event has had a profound effect on the Russian economy which is heavily dependent on oil. The same drop in price has had a retarding influence on American oil exploration and production as well, but America had never seriously gotten into High Arctic exploration much less production when the crunch hit. Russia had seriously invested in both exploration and production and their military build up was largely an attempt to protect, expand (including at neighbor's expense), and promote further development. With 2015 opening with the oil price crunch we find it impossible to accurately predict Russian High Arctic activity including ,military activity until the price per barrel returns to at least cost recovery levels. This is an issue we will continue to watch during 2015.
7/29/2016 The oil crunch continues at this writing. Russian High Arctic economic and military activity continues but is not fully funded, Russian High Arctic territorial claims are still asserted beyond the bounds of recognized international law.
ORIGINAL EDITORIAL COMMENT: We'll refer you to the linked article above for the official Russian report of their planned military build up in the Arctic. To understand why the Bear wants to have a military build up in the High Arctic you must first understand that with Russia , for any aggressive military move there is always a "good reason" ( the officially articulated reason with or without any element of truth) and the real reason which is always focused on Russian national self interest regardless of consequences to, or the property of, neighboring states. The High Arctic region and Russia itself usually seem very far away from the typical inhabitant of the lower 48 states of the United States. But in terms of Alaska, to quote Tina Fay while impersonating our favorite former Governor of Alaska....."I can see Russia from my house". We are going to have to think differently about our thousands of miles of Arctic Coast. Polar Bears may be having difficulty surviving but the Great Bear is chewing up the landscape and telling lies about us. Consider this from the Bear taken from the linked article above:
"International competition for influence in the Arctic has stepped up considerably in recent years, with countries like Canada, Denmark, the United States, and Norway all increasing their military presence in the resource-rich region.
It is estimated that the Arctic contains one of the world’s largest reserves of untapped hydrocarbon resources. "
So the Bear is telling its people that the big bad Eagle is leading its notorious and powerful henchmen Canada, Denmark, and Norway in a big oil grab. Time for a reality check. Russia is claiming the Arctic Ocean as an extension of its OCS almost right up to the territorial seas of the U.S. and Canada, as if we had no right to an exclusive economic zone up there of any sort and as if there are no international waters in the region. Occasionally U.S. submarines operate up there but much less so than during the Cold War. A U.S. surface war ship visited a Russian Arctic port within the last year or so as an invitee on a good will visit. The U.S. Coast Guard built a new Ice Breaker a few years ago giving a grand total operational ice breaker capacity of two ships to Russia's dozens. The Coast Guard has been writing and talking about establishing some sort of permanent presence on the American Arctic Coast but a Coast Guard "presence" is about search and rescue and environmental protection , the Coast Guard is a naval auxiliary and police agency, not an aggressive military force. The Canadian Coast Guard also seeking to increase its presence in the Canadian Arctic is an unarmed civil service. Denmark and Norway with their entire national land territory being in close proximity to the Arctic have regular naval forces at home, which is to say is to say either within the Arctic or in close proximity. Lets face it, we have tremendous respect for the navies of Denmark and Norway but they are home guards, not aggressive naval forces. The truth is that the military build up in the Arctic is one sided and unilateral on the part of Russia and its purpose is aggressive, get as much of the oil and other revenues as possible at the expense of its neighbors. Russia will probably couch its outrageous claims in terms of international law and pay lip service to ideas like innocent passage, free navigation of straits, etc but will try to push its exclusive economic zone up to the edge of the territorial seas of all of its Arctic neighbors and their present Arctic focused military/naval build up is simply to insure that they are "bargaining" from a position of overwhelming strength. Meanwhile the only aggressive type military forces traveling the Arctic routes besides those of Russia in recent years have been those of the Dragon, China. We described China's Arctic forays in our April 2012 post; "REPTILES ON ICE"http://americanadmiraltybooks.blogspot.com/2013/04/4162012-how-far-will-dragon-swim.html