Thursday, May 24, 2018


Editor's Note 1/16/2020: Russiaan harassment contiues but has not escalated appreciably since first reported.

 The oil platform Statfjord A with the flotel Polymariner off the coast of Norway. Photo by  Jarvin (Jarle Vines)

Rear Admiral Nils Andreas Stensoenes is the head of the Norwegian Navy. He is not a happy camper as he has a large bear prowling just outside his home waters, Russia is busy flexing its muscle and making roaring sounds just outside Norway's High Arctic territorial seas. Legally, the old bear has every right to be in international waters no matter how close to a territorial sea line they may be. There is no legal basis for complaint. But it is clear that Russia is parading its High Arctic naval capabilities for the purpose of inhibiting Norway's intentions for use of the High Arctic.  Norway has an Arctic border with the bear and the Norwegian economy is highly dependent on access to the world's oceans. The Norwegians have been a seafaring nation since Viking days. The Norwegians evolved into a gentler, nicer version of their old viking selves, the Russians seem to be taking up their ancient bad habits. Recent Russian military / naval exercises appear to be demonstrations of their ability to reach any target in Norway with extremely destructive force.  Last year Bear bombers flew missions towards the Norwegian Arctic towns of Vardoe and its Norwegian military intelligence installations. The bear seems to be telling Norway that bears don't like having their activity monitored no matter how near their neighbors territory they are working. Bears also don't like competition. The bear wants the Arctic Ocean renamed the Russian Sea and their territorial claim now extends from their shore to the North Pole, a claim contested by Canada, and others including Norway. 

 The common wisdom is that war in the Arctic is not imminent but if not. this is a most interesting use of military forces. Here Russia seems to be using its superior naval forces to intimidate Norway away from serious Arctic resource exploration and experimentation, especially out in the "commons" past their territorial sea. The bear is marking his turf in the commons and trying to use clearly superior military forces to scare its neighbors from asserting their rights. Obviously if the Norwegians offend the bear he may use a naval blockade to keep Norway from asserting their rights in the High Arctic. The Norwegians would of course scream to high heaven and the Russians could well afford to relent after only a few days or weeks of blocking Norway's access to the sea and causing billions of dollars worth of economic damage.  Such would be an aggressive and illegal use of naval force, but an effective economic / military tactic to influence a compeditors actions. Really its enough to give bears a bad image. 

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