The prospect of a joint Russian-Chinese challenge to U.S. interests in the Arctic is a “nightmare” that Washington is not ready to confront. This opinion was expressed by The National Interest magazine expert Michael Lyons.
“The Arctic is a region to which American politicians rarely pay attention, but which plays a key role in the policies of world powers,” the author wrote. According to him, climate change is opening up new economic opportunities in the region, and major world powers are increasingly stating their intention to dominate it.
“Unfortunately for American strategists, Washington is far behind its rivals,” Lyons complained. He reminded that the U.S. Coast Guard, like China, has only two icebreakers at its disposal, while the Russian fleet has at least 40 such ships, and by 2035 will be 13 nuclear icebreakers more.
The expert noted that in 2018, China declared itself a near-Arctic state and began preparing for its initiative “Polar Silk Road”. In his view, it is already clear that Beijing, having received observer status in the Arctic Council and cooperating with Russia in the region, showed a strong desire to become an important player in the “relatively exclusive” game.
“Confrontation in the Arctic with an adversary such as Russia entails a number of challenges, but the prospect of a joint Russian-Chinese challenge to the interests of the United States in the Arctic is a potential techno-thriller and nightmare that America is not ready to confront”, Lyons said.
He added that the Arctic is not only a “potential corridor for strategic competition” and not just a “potential platform for increased competition between the major powers.
“This game has already begun, and American politicians are lagging behind their counterparts from other countries in responding to this threat,” the expert concluded.