ArcticWatch: Russia flexing its muscles

Not even a week ago, I chaired a panel discussion in Berlin on the Strategic Challenges of the Arctic Sea. All panelists – a Danish military, a Canadian researcher, a British researcher and the Head of Strategic Planning for NATO – were pretty adamant about their impression that all nations with interests and stakes in the Arctic were willing to resolve disputes in the region peacefully. (Regretfully, no Russian representative had been found to take part in this panel.)

A week later, there are sounds from Moscow which seem to contradict a general impression for the peaceful solution of disputes. AFP reports:

President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s military on Tuesday to step up its presence in the Arctic after Canada signalled its intention to claim the North Pole and surrounding waters. (…)
Putin told an expanded defence ministry meeting that Russia’s national interests and security lay in bolstering its presence in the Arctic after making a brief post-Soviet retreat.
„I would like you to devote special attention to deploying infrastructure and military units in the Arctic,“ the Kremlin chief said in televised remarks.

Russia reacts to the Canadian claim to the North pole, and this might give a taste of how the different claims to ressources under the Arctic may play out in the future.

Well, of course this does not mean that a military standoff in the Far North is at hand. However, it’s something to watch also from the security perspective more closely.