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After Iraq, America took up the Arctic

December 8 2005

In the U.S., issues of economic and political-military activities in the Arctic is not among those which are taken out U.S. leadership for a broad discussion.

Recently, however, a trend significantly increased activity in the discussion of these issues at both the political elite and in academic circles. In this case, we can say that the theme of development of the Arctic territories are implemented with strategic military and political leadership in the U.S. strategy of global leadership.

Formally, the "Arctic theme" is not among the priorities of U.S. national security. Nevertheless, our analysis indicates that the political and expert circles in the U.S. a serious debate about future priorities in U.S. policy toward the Arctic. It is obvious that the problem relates to the hidden policy priorities in the field of U.S. national security, public discussion which considered unwise.

It is obvious that the development of a new U.S. policy on the Arctic region will be implemented under the prevailing notions about the need for U.S. leadership in the international arena, which is enshrined in the extreme version of the National Security Strategy. According to these ideas, the U.S. should have all the necessary resources to deliver a decisive influence on the situation in key regions of the planet.

The Arctic is just this region. Its economic attractiveness is due not only enormous potential of natural resources and the anticipated increase in traffic value of the Northern Sea Route.

Domination does not involve a strong partner. Why Washington does not hide his extremely negative attitude to Russian activity in the Arctic.

One of the key issues under discussion in Washington's policy on the Arctic is the question of U.S. participation in the development of the continental shelf of the Arctic zone. It is in the context of discussions on this topic clearly is a tendency to serial form in the U.S. a negative attitude towards the real and future activities of the Russian Federation in the development of the Arctic.

In particular, in dealing with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of hearings before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Affairs (passed March 23, 2004) during the expert presentations, senators and representatives of the current administration periodically heard statements indicating at least cautious attitude towards opportunities to strengthen Russia's position in the Arctic.

The key issue of the day is subject of territorial claims on the Arctic continental shelf: Russia's actions in this direction one cause disapproval in Washington. Moreover, the course of Russia aimed at securing for themselves the legal areas of the Arctic shelf, regarded as a threat to U.S. national interests.

In parallel, the military-political leadership began to insist on the necessity of presenting its own claims to the territory of Washington of the Arctic continental shelf.

Gradually produced, and "volume" of possible territorial claims, which, if they maintain the international arena, will make the U.S. a major player in the region. It is natural that a special interest in enhancing the U.S. policy on the Arctic expressed by representatives of the political establishment of the northern states - Alaska. It was there that put forward the most ambitious plans for the shelf. At a hearing on the law of the sea and a Republican senator from that state L.urkovski declares that "if we adhere to the treaty, the U.S. will be able to reclaim their rights to the territory in the Arctic of about 450.000 square kilometers, about the size of California."

Also annoys Russia's position regarding the use of the Northern Sea Route (NSR). Russia's policy, under which a substantial part of the SMP area is under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation is becoming a serious concern in American political circles. American community of experts with the support of the political elite advances the thesis about the need to maximize the "internationalization" of SMP, which includes receipt of U.S. possibilities for the free use of this transport corridor.

The Commission's report on the U.S. Arctic Research (authorities responsible for drafting the strategic directions of U.S. policy toward the Arctic), "The Arctic Ocean and climate change: a scenario for the U.S. Navy," published in 2002, expressly states that the contradictions concerning SMEs are an important item on the agenda of Russian-American relations. "The U.S. continues to insist that the ice-covered straits NSR are international and are the subject of transit ... Russia and Canada follow a policy whereby all suitable for navigating the straits into the North Sea Route under their exclusive control. The U.S. approach to determining the status of these straits is different from their point of view. As soon as these straits will increasingly engage in international traffic, the probability of conflict ", - stated in the document.

Despite the seemingly peripheral interest in Washington to the actions of Russia in the Arctic, in fact, there is special attention that the military-political leadership of the U.S. mainstream media and expert community, the Russian participation in the development of the Arctic. Key aspects that appeal to the U.S. - is Russia's military presence in the region, as well as socio-economic development of the Russian Arctic and environmental issues. For each of these topics in military and political leadership the U.S. has "accumulated" a serious amount of claims to Russia, which is used to justify the introduction of new, more active and aggressive approach to U.S. policy in the Arctic.

Naturally, the main attention is traditionally given to the military aspects of the Arctic territory of Russia, particularly with respect to weapons of mass destruction.

The most scrutiny exposed the activities of Russia in the test range on the island of Novaya Zemlya. Thanks to mass media publications and statements by American politicians to a mass audience implanted the notion that the Russian Arctic - it is almost completely militarized region, all activities which is subject to military targets, with very questionable content. Typically, injection of passion on the subject of nuclear security in the region used mass media, the most authoritative and influential in the country.

For example, in 1999, provoked a wide response published in The New York Times that Russia allegedly conducted at Novaya Zemlya testing of proscribed nuclear weapons. This information is instantly aroused stormy debate in the U.S. and considerably complicate Russian-American dialogue in the sphere of politics and security.

In the absence of real evidence of illegal actions of Russia and the testing of weapons on this range, the largest U.S. media periodically replicated charges unspecified nature, allowing the right to hold political and military leadership of the United States entitled "afloat."Charges with reference to certain nuclear physicists and other unnamed experts are reduced to the suspicion that "Moscow is on the Arctic island of Novaya Zemlya is greater than said." Naturally, this logic leaves a wide scope for the emergence of further insinuations on the use of Russian Arctic territory for illicit nuclear experiments.

If the military aspects of the Russian exploration in the Arctic in the U.S. often artificially exaggerated, the extent of socio-economic activities in the Russian Arctic, by contrast, are underestimated. The American media always emphasize the many economic and social problems in the Arctic regions.

Sharp criticism of the economic policy of the federal center for arctic regions. Notes the total ineffectiveness of the methods used by Moscow's support in these areas. Leitmotif of the comments is the idea that people have to live in is actually not suitable for civilized living. Constantly passes a line that in the Russian North widespread disease, chronic poverty, "povalny" alcoholism, there is a clear lack of basic infrastructure and supplies necessary for the survival of resources.

It is worth noting that, apart from the obvious negative effect of such publications related to the statement of the severe social conditions in specific regions of Arctic Russia, the U.S. media is actually formulated the idea that Russia can not effectively use its Arctic territory. Emphasizes the absence of the Russian leadership of any action aimed at improving the situation, and to encourage private businesses to invest in the region.

Thus formed the view that only the expansion of foreign economic, humanitarian, and in the future - and political presence in the Russian Arctic may save the region from the socio-economic degradation. Americans actually formulated the concept of humanitarian intervention. In this regard in the near future we should expect a significant surge in the Russian Arctic regions of the U.S. or controlled by U.S. humanitarian organizations, with a focus on assistance in the preservation of traditional lifestyles of indigenous peoples, the implementation of environmental and educational programs.

The environmental issue is the third among the major priorities of U.S. attention to the actions of Russia in the Arctic. Periodically, the information field of the U.S. thrown various stories on violations by the Russian side of standards in environmental management. Until it has the character of a planned campaign, however, can not but note the trend, according to which the background to the items on the activities of Russia in the Arctic are a variety of environmental problems.

Characteristically, in the context of the environment is being developed negative with respect to nuclear security in the region. Of particular concern is the fact that this topic with a commitment to develop the representatives of the current administration. In 1999 testimony before the House Committee on Banking and Finance Assistant Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs E. Truman directly accused Russia of Pollution of the Arctic waters of radioactive materials: "There is a problem dumping radioactive waste in Arctic waters, <...> is a threat not only to United States, but also for other countries. "

Theme of environmental protection has traditionally been used to exert pressure on Russia over its plans for the development of Arctic infrastructure, and construction of oil and gas facilities. For example, plans to build a gas pipeline in the Russian Arctic are presented as a blow to the local environment.Regularly highlights the facts and the smaller "sins" of Russia on the Arctic environment. Typically, even the most authoritative American edition did not miss the opportunity to draw the attention of your readers to this issue as the spread of poaching in the Russian Arctic, with whom the alleged Russian authorities do not want to fight.

Clear predominance of negative theses in the subjects of the Russian Arctic, and many voiced at various venues claims to Russia gives an indication that the Arctic theme will sooner or later be the subject of hard economic and political bargaining between the U.S. and Russia.

Already on the basis of incoming operational information and official documents of the current administration and Congress, as well as publications in the media can conclude there is evidence of a new strategy of U.S. behavior with regard to the Arctic region and, above all, the Russian part of it.

Russia in those concepts automatically takes the place of the main rival of the United States in the struggle for dominance in the region. In this regard, one of the central tasks of the new strategy will be the acquisition of control or at least a high degree of influence over military, economic and environmental activities in the Russian Arctic.

Thus, it is obvious that American oil companies committed to projects on the territory of the Russian Arctic, automatically become agents of a new line of official Washington in the region. Simultaneously, the inhibition of projects not directly associated with U.S. financial and industrial circles, will use a variety of international and Russian environmental organizations, which will create unwanted publicity on the subject, ostensibly caused by Russia in the Arctic environment.

Another task is to establish U.S. control over the Russian Northern Fleet. Occurred in the past few years, incidents in the Russian navy is already beginning to be used the military-political leadership of the United States to exert pressure on our country in order to display a new level of recycling programs Russian Navy facilities (for example, the Nunn-Lugar program), and Now the USA requires direct access to their representatives to military installations and technologies. It is obvious that these requirements are significantly complicate the implementation of a fleet of various problems including the geo-economic nature.

In parallel with efforts to weaken Russia's military capacity in the region to ensure U.S. dominance is not without the help of NATO is increasing its military capabilities in the Arctic. Special role in these plans is Norway, which is clearly with the approval of Washington's increasing military component of its presence in the region. Traditional annual exercise of land forces and naval forces of NATO in Norway and the Norwegian Sea are on the scenario, which has clearly not friendly towards Russia-oriented.

To be a growing importance of Alaska to U.S. military policy. On the territory of this state are air bases, one military and naval base, 54 other military installations. Characteristically, it was the territory of Alaska is involved in the first phase of deployment of U.S. missile defense system. On the base at Fort Greely will be placed rocket launch complexes designed to fulfill the role of the first "panel" in missile defense system.

Speaking about the U.S. strategy towards the Arctic, it should be noted that it corresponds to the current practice of U.S. actions in key regions of the world. In order to ensure their economic interests, the U.S. initially provides enhanced military presence, on the basis of which formed the mechanism of force to respond to emerging crises.

Other material copyright of the Arctic today .

Константин Дятлов

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