Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Heavy-hit U.S. politicians give debate on the future of the far north, fueling concerns about a new Cold War

The seventh ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in May from looking like a trivial affair, with its focus on signing a new search and rescue agreement and would be handing over the presidency to Sweden.

Meanwhile the Russians – also part of the eight-nation Arctic Council – were happy to push off the agenda any look at whether countries such as China could gain observer status.

The appearance of the US navy comes as the Russians are said to have increased missile testing in the region and its neighbour Norway has moved its main military base to the far north.

The Kremlin insisted it was merely a theatrical gesture by a scientist hired by private companies to make the descent in two mini-submarines. But there was also significant that in the following year Chilingarov - awarded by the government a new title - also a Member of Parliament: Hero of the Russian Federation.

Flamboyant gestures aside worries about a new Cold War - if not just a cold rush - have led scholars like Rob Huebert, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary, in a recent paper for the Canadian Defence and Foreign prepared warn Affairs institutions that "an arms race can \ begin".

Huebert says he was the Russian president, Vladimir Putin is speaking of the need to establish a "peace zone" in the Arctic, but looks rather act as well.

\ Given "Despite the public pronouncements of peace and cooperation in the Arctic by the Arctic states, the strategic value of the region is growing. As this value increases, each state a greater value on their own national interests in the set region. Arctic states may talk cooperation, but they are preparing for conflict. "

Meanwhile, Admiral James Stavridis, NATO 's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, released ahead of a final Whitehall Paper of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in London, argues: "For now, the disputes in the north been handled peacefully, but climate change could alter the balance in the coming years in the race to the temptation for the use of readily available natural resources. "

The country's key consideration appears to be its relations with Russia, its large and unpredictable neighbour.

"We think it is imperative to keep the Arctic as a zone of peace and co-operation," he told an Arctic forum in Moscow last year. "We all know that it is hard to live alone in the Arctic ... We have heard futuristic predictions threatening a battle for the Arctic" ...[but] the majority of scary scenarios about the Arctic do not have any real basis."

"There is a military build-up and an increase in megaphone diplomacy – if only from Canada. We do not want a return to the cold war."

Terry Macalister ? Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms and Conditions | More Feeds


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