There is a possibility for The Artic region of becoming one of the hot political venues in the world. Recently, the North Sea countries have expressed more concern about the activity of the Russia in the Baltic Sea and Arctic
Blowing “cold war” winds
Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland Defense Ministers joint issued written statement that states Russia as the main threat to European security at the beginning of April. Therefore, these countries have decided to increase relations in the defense sector, as well as to show solidarity with more robust in the Baltic States. The purpose of strengthening cooperation in the field of defense is to prepare for “crisis and the possible incidents which could be caused by Russia”. The statement records Russia in order to achieve political goals can use military force even violate international law. It is not an exception that the intervention of Russia to Ukraine events and the occupation of Crimea were planned. Also it is stated that, military and secret service activities of Russia increased in the northern borders of these five states and in the Baltic Sea. Border violations have been recorded several times in the Baltic Sea.
The statement is an indicator of deterioration relations between Russia and the West due to crisis in Ukraine and the process of starting “Cold War” period. From statement spreading countries, Norway, Denmark and Iceland are member of NATO, the others have a wide range of connections between Transatlantic Alliance.
Finland and Sweden in order to show a more neutral position during the “Cold War” years and the current US-Russian rivalry not intended to take NATO membership. But last times, especially in connection with the Finland parliamentary elections of 19 April 2015, debates around the issue of NATO membership have intensified. After won the relative majority of Parliament places “Center” party have declared that while formulating new government they are trying change policy to NATO.
Some of the members calling to continue to keep the neutral policy. However, “Central” party leader Juha Sipila has expressed displeasure his country’s membership in NATO, stressed the need for discussions on this issue. Opinion polls among population show that 40 percent of residents opposed to NATO membership, 28 percent in favor, totally the majority is ready to support the government on this issue at any position. It can be assumed that the new government of Finland will not try to be member alliance, but allowing a wide range of discussion about it will give political messages to show its disagreed with the policy of Russia to Ukraine.
Recall that, Russia at the end of 2014 and beginning of this year has been several times accused for sabotage in the North waters. Sweden claimed that Russia entered its territorial waters and the news spread about increasing military activity by Russia in the Finland border waters. The incident took place in April between the Russian-Norwegian relations. The visit of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to archipelago of Spitsbergen for the opening of floating station “The North Pole-2015” was caused discontent by Norwegian government. The Russian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to give explanations on this issue. Norwegian government relates its discontent with Rogozin’s name is list on the sanctions. Russia side state that it does not match to the signed the Svalbard Treaty in 1920. Note that, the state initially signed by 9, but the number of participants increased to 40. According to the agreement, the citizens of signatory countries can travel freely to the archipelago, to dwell therein. Currently, the law mainly uses by Norway and Russia.
Experts suppose that tough reaction of the Norway to the visit of Roqozin serve to several purposes. One of them is that Norway is trying to test how serious the Russian attitude toward Spitsbergen. Another aim of the government is to show its standing guard over national sovereignty to the nation of Norway, as well as to demonstrate to partners in the European Union and NATO its commitment to the sanctions.
In general, the activities of Russia in Artic carefully have been pursued by the West. Due to this, Western media try to focus attention to the Northern Joint Strategic Command’s which was established by Russia on December 1, 2014. As part of the new strategy Russian land, sea and air forces are being placed in the military bases of the Soviet Union era in Artic.
It is supposed that, due to strengthening competition in the Arctic and dependent of Russian economy on energy export Moscow by utilization Soviet era bases and establishing new ones try to strengthen its military position and to control as much as possible place in the region.
It matches with the military doctrine which was signed by Russia on December 26, 2014. It was stated in doctrine that expansion of NATO is main foreign threat for Russia. For this reason, Russia should pay more attention to the three geo-political front- the Arctic, the Crimea and the Kaliningrad.
Note that, NATO also in operation in the region. Since 2006, Norway in its northern coastal zone in partnership with NATO holds “cold response” military trainings.
Artic as an attractive economic zone
The struggle for Article is not associated with only security issues. The region’s rich hydrocarbon resources, as well as short sea trade route between Europe and Asia cause this region to become interest area of North countries and countries in other regions. China, India, Singapore, Italy and other several countries are members as observers in council. The Artic council focuses on issues such as impact of economy to environment and protection of biodiversity.
The interest to cold and unfavorable climate of North Pole is not coincidence. According to estimates, 15 percent of the world’s existing oil reserves, 30 percent of natural gas reserves, and 20 percent of natural gas is located under the waters of the Arctic.
Although, The North Pole is mostly covered with glaciers, it can compete with The Suez Canal the sea route of between Europe and Asia. If transcontinental journey lasts 48 days with the Suez Canal, with the northern sea route it can be completed in 35 days.
All these issues state that the main factors which force for competition for this region are political, security and economic. However, the region’s natural conditions do not allow for a comfortable and smooth use of its economic potential.
In any case, The North Pole and surrounding regions are reflected by the geopolitical strengthening rivalry between the West and Russia. This promotes a struggle for influence in the region and territorial.