The US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber landed in the Arctic Circle for the first time in history, and it happened at the Norwegian air defense base Buda. As part of the test events, the crew tested the capabilities of the runway, and also carried out a test refueling of the vehicle. The visit was short: after refueling, the B-1 took off again.
Moscow will definitely perceive this Arctic maneuver of the US B-1B bomber in the Arctic Circle as a provocation. This opinion was expressed by the military columnist for The Drive, Joseph Trevithick. He notes that there is an ever-growing competition in the Arctic region and the appearance of B-1B there is a serious step.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the rhetoric about the need to achieve American dominance in the Arctic under the dressing of the right to its international spaces sounds louder and louder.
So, The National Interest now writes directly: the era of “competition between the great powers” in the Arctic has begun in the world and the United States, Russia and China are participating in the confrontation. At the same time, Washington has a chance to win only if a number of conditions are met. In particular, the magazine’s experts pointed to the need for a permanent US presence in the region. For example, Washington needs to continue leasing icebreakers from other countries, as well as develop its own Arctic fleet. This will allow the United States to provide freedom of navigation and intelligence, while simultaneously saving money and resources for the US Coast Guard troops.
In addition, as indicated in The National Interest, “selfless diplomacy” will be required from the States. It is argued that “relations with Denmark, which is part of it Greenland, Norway, Canada, Iceland, Sweden and Finland on Arctic issues have never been stronger” than in recent years.
Earlier, the US even offered to cooperate with Russia for the sake of “blocking” China in the Arctic. The journalist Henry-Nicholas Grossman, who made such a message in the same The National Interest, noted that the PRC authorities have “colonial ambitions” in the Arctic and are trying to consolidate their presence there.
The Arctic policy of the United States openly defines the actions of Russia, and more recently, China, in the Arctic as a threat to its national security. In a number of policy documents of the American government, Beijing is positioned as a wrecker in the Arctic, and China’s research activities are associated with the possibility of direct military deployment in the region.
China’s interest in the Arctic is growing in proportion to the global interests of China, which is investing more heavily in the development of infrastructure and transport routes in Southeast and Central Asia and Africa. Beijing’s spending on Arctic research is not comparable to, say, the amount invested in research activities in Antarctica, where Xuelong 2, the first icebreaker built in China for scientific expeditions, went at the end of 2019.
However, it is significant: China has its own polar research station near the village of Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard.
In the development of the Russian Arctic, the participation of Chinese capital is still limited to two projects – Yamal LNG, where the Chinese CNPC (20%) and the Silk Road Fund (9.9%), as well as Arctic LNG-2, have their shares. which includes the Chinese CNOOC (10%) and CNODC (10%). China is acting pragmatically, focusing only on the most promising projects not only in terms of their global competitiveness, but also in terms of export opportunities for Chinese technologies. For example, most of the heat exchange equipment for Yamal LNG was produced in China.
At the same time, the Sino-American confrontation in the coming decades will remain a structural factor in international relations, which means it will manifest itself in the Arctic region. Roughly the same applies to Russian-American competition in the Arctic, and here the task of the United States is more than difficult – to catch up and overtake Russia.
The Russian Arctic hides almost all of the Arctic gas reserves and up to 80% of the oil reserves of the Far North. In general, Russia actually controls all the most valuable resources that the Arctic is rich in, and Washington does not want to put up with this.
In fact, the United States is very concerned that it only owns Alaska in the Arctic. Therefore, American policy is aimed at the “internationalization” of the northern expanses, and in fact, at the affirmation of the principle “that nobodies is mine.”
Access to the Arctic is access to the northern borders of Russia, the ability to deploy the latest types of weapons, to test them. Today, the United States is actively building up its military presence in the region, conducting permanent military exercises together with its northern NATO allies, and developing tactics for military operations in the Far North in the event of an armed conflict.
The United States has shown interest in the Arctic for a long time, but there were also much more significant regions for the Americans where the confrontation with our country was pronounced. These are the Middle East, Asia-Pacific region, the African continent, Eastern Europe. Before the Americans simply did not have time for the Arctic, but in our time, Washington is closely engaged in the northern seas.
The United States is showing global plans for the High North. Realizing perfectly well what strategic opportunities the US will provide by the “internationalization” of the Arctic, the Pentagon hopes not only to concentrate more troops and weapons in the Arctic region but also to get Russia to send its warships along the Northern Sea Route, that is, along the Russian coast. The current mission of the US Navy is to build up power in the Arctic by establishing new naval bases in the Bering Sea region and expanding its military presence in Alaska.
It is no coincidence that the 45th American President Donald Trump insisted on his desire to buy Greenland from Denmark. The United States seeks to establish control over the largest possible area and extent of the Arctic territories.
However, if the States can dictate certain conditions to Canada or Denmark on the Arctic expanses, then the situation with Russia is much more complicated. Therefore, Washington is trying to push through its position, relying on international law, more precisely, pretending that the United States is concerned about its observance and sincerely cares about the equality of rights of all countries of the world and about the Arctic belonging to all mankind.
Nikolai Korchunov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Ambassador-at-Large, senior official of the Arctic Council from the Russian Federation, said last year that NATO’s activity in the Arctic, especially countries outside this region, leads to tension and destabilization of the situation. The commander of the Russian Northern Fleet, Alexander Moiseev, noted that NATO is actively increasing the combat training of its troops in the region, and intelligence activities are also growing.
On March 5, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the foundations of the state policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic until 2035. The main national interests of our country in the Arctic include ensuring sovereignty and territorial integrity, preserving the Arctic as a territory of peace, and a stable and mutually beneficial partnership.