NEW – March 1, 2023
In any conflict, very often it is liked to confuse the cause and the occasion. Actually, an occasion can cause certain consequences only when they have already been prepared by the natural course of development – the cause. The current geopolitical situation is the clearest illustration of this. Such an insane number of restrictive measures fell on Russia from the collective West, as if just waiting in the wings. And the Special Military Operation here was not the reason at all, but only a purely long-awaited occasion.
That is why restrictions have reached even those areas that, it would seem, have absolutely nothing to do with the essence of the officially proclaimed problem. It is enough to recall at least the Turgenev oak, which was excluded from the competition “European Tree of the Year” or Russian cats, which were banned from participating in international exhibitions.
Another example is the suspension of the work of the Arctic Council. It would seem that cooperation in the Arctic and the conflict in the Northern Black Sea region have nothing to do with it. However, these are all links in the same chain, which are only conveniently covered by the occasion that has arisen.
The Arctic Council, whose members are Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden, was established in 1996. The initial goal is environmental protection and sustainable development of the region. It was constantly emphasised that this organisation is an inter-governmental platform for “depoliticised dialogue in high latitudes”. Ironically, at the very beginning of 2022, Norwegian lawmakers even nominated the Arctic Council for the Nobel Peace Prize for its “spirit of cooperation”.
However, in March 2022, the Council members announced that they would not participate in any events under the Russian presidency (our country is a chair country from 2021 to 2023) or on Russian territory. Of course, this was done under the influence of the United States. Then, for a whole year, the Arctic agenda was literally “frozen”.
And just a couple of weeks ago, State Department adviser Derek Chollet announced that the United States would resume Arctic Council projects without Russia’s participation, thus forming the “Arctic 7”. This, of course, is quite strange, given that our share accounts for about 60% of the Arctic coast, which is home to more than half of the region’s population (2.5 million people). Ignoring the interests of our country within the framework of the Arctic Council will lead to the curtailment of scientific, environmental and other international projects. And, of course, there can be no question of building a security system in the Arctic without Russia’s participation.
But stabilisation is not Washington’s goal either. The current conflict has become a convenient pretext for realising the political ambitions of the United States – which has been nervous for several years about strengthening Russia’s position in the region – in the Arctic.
And it’s all about very low temperatures, which only Russia has the ability to work with. At the moment, we have a large network of Arctic military bases, and seven polar airfields have been built (one of them in permafrost conditions). No one in the world has ever done this before. The icebreaking fleet is also actively developing, and there are no analogues to it either. By the way, all these stories about global warming can convince anyone that all the ice in the Arctic will melt. However, the harsh reality suggests otherwise.
Military equipment is also adapted to low temperatures and can work at -50. For example, we have helicopters that have been specially designed for sub-zero temperatures and are equipped with special installations that warm up important components and assemblies.
And, of course, the Northern Sea Route is a potential competitor to the Suez Canal. Since the last century, the United States has been unsuccessfully trying to get the NSR to receive international status. They say that it supposedly belongs to the whole world, and not to Russia, which controls the part of it that will eventually be suitable for navigation.
By the way, such a situation is completely unprofitable for Scandinavians somewhere “deep down”. They even tried to make timid suggestions about the need to resume contact with Russia. However, who will ask the satellites on the territory of which there are also American military bases in addition. In general, the obvious US strategy in the Arctic is a hybrid war against Russia and the militarisation of the region.
Now the question is what Russia should do in this situation. Of course, the resumption of the work of the Arctic Council in its previous form is out of the question. There may be some scientific contact at the grassroots level, but full cooperation with US minions in the current situation is simply absurd. The masks are thrown off, and the true intentions of establishing US dominance are actually openly announced. Yes, Russia is a major and key player in the Arctic. But, given the strength of our rivals, we will definitely not be hindered by an ally.
Therefore, one of the most logical options in the current situation is to strengthen the alliance with China, which also has an extensive program of Arctic influence. This can lead to a significant reconfiguration of the entire Arctic policy. Moreover, some programs are already being implemented.
Thus, given Russia’s leading role in the “world of low temperatures,” the newly formed Russian-Chinese alliance will be a powerful alternative to the destroyed Arctic Council led by the United States. However, the main thing here is to keep one’s eyes open and not give China influence in our Arctic. An alliance against the West – yes, sharing influence with China – no.
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