The European Union considers itself a full-fledged player in the Arctic and plans to participate in the development of rules for this region. About it writes “Kommersant” with reference to the published strategy of the European Commission.
The document states that “The European Union is located in the Arctic and has strategic and day-to-day interests in the Arctic region. Full EU participation in Arctic issues is a geopolitical necessity. ” Among other things, Brussels will promote the idea of a complete ban on mining and refusal to buy energy resources produced there.
Thus, the newspaper notes, Brussels abandoned unsuccessful attempts to obtain observer status in the Arctic Council and changed tactics, deciding to act more straightforwardly. This association includes eight states, including Russia, which, after the imposed sanctions in 2014, vetoes the inclusion of new players in the organization.
The interlocutor of the publication in the state structures of Russia assessed the claims of the European Union on the Arctic as “an attempt to try on the role of an elephant in a china shop.” In particular, he noted, attempts to restrict or ban the purchase of products will cost dearly both for the Europeans themselves and for the inhabitants of the region, including indigenous peoples.
The Arctic contains 30 percent of all undiscovered gas and 13 percent of the world’s oil reserves. The Northern Sea Route, the shortest trade route from Europe to Asia, runs through the Arctic waters. Melting ice will make the route an attractive transport link, comparable to the Suez or Panama Canals.
Russia is stepping up its activity in the Arctic for the sake of this route and insists that it has special rights to it. The US and NATO consider Moscow’s maritime claims “illegal” and are increasing their military presence in the Arctic. Since 2013, the alliance has been conducting the Arctic Challenge exercises, and the United States has laid the foundation for the construction of three nuclear-powered icebreakers.
In 2019, it was reported that the Pentagon had to make changes in the tactics of deploying forces in the Arctic. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of the US and NATO forces in Europe, said that the military department in this way responded to Russia’s increasing its defense potential in the region. The general explained that Washington is interested in the resource and commercial prospects of the Northern Sea Route, which runs along the Russian borders, but Moscow has deployed radar and defense systems there, as well as built additional airfields. At the same time, the commander of the US Navy in Europe and Africa, Admiral James Foggo, said that the United States would not allow Russia and China to dominate the Arctic, since “the Northern Sea Route is not someone’s lake.”