Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 288

288 Arctic Yearbook 2015 S. Shoigu also noted that developed countries that do not have direct access to the polar regions are striving insistently for the Arctic. They are taking certain political, military and economic steps in this direction (RT 2015). N. Patrushev also stressed that Arctic resources are attracting the attention not only of the Arctic countries, but are also of interest to the EU, China, Japan, South Korea and other countries. Their interest, firstly, has been determined by natural resources and new transport routes (Ivanov 2013). But according to S. Lavrov, this will not lead to an “Arctic Race,” because: International law on Arctic waters clearly determines the rights of both coastal and other states. This includes access for developing the extraction of mineral resources, oil and gas deposits, as well as managing marine biological stocks. International law also regulates the ability of countries to expand the external border of their continental shelf. Today’s complicated international situation does not create any significant changes to the established order (Sputnik 2014a). The same position has been expressed by V. Putin who has said that although many perceive Russia’s activity in the Arctic with caution and are afraid of it, Russia will act in the framework of international law (TASS 2014). Militarization of the Arctic The discourse around the militarization of the Arctic is the most contradictory, but it arises from the so called ‘security dilemma’ when an effort by one side to maximize its security increases threats to the other, thus escalating tension in international relations (Herz 1950). Russia’s increasing military presence in the Arctic is based on the grounds that other countries pose a threat to Russia. V. Putin recalled that there are US nuclear submarines along the coast of Norway and that the flight time of missiles launched from them to Moscow is just 16-17 minutes (Forbes 2013). According to N. Patrushev, there is regular US Navy and Royal Navy submarine activity in the Arctic, that there are at least three weekly flights of patrol aircraft, and that about 10 major events in operational and combat training are planned to be held there every year. The US has also created a united armed forces base in Alaska, Canada is building a port in Nanisivik and a military training facility in Resolute, and Denmark has created a united command for the armed forces of the Arctic. N. Patrushev concluded that in such circumstances Russia cannot just watch war preparations by foreign countries near its borders (Ivanov 2013). Two years later, S. Shoigu announced that “a permanent military presence in the Arctic and the ability to protect the state’s interests by means of armed struggle is seen as an integral part of the overall national security policy” (Shoigu 2015). A. Vasiliev provided additional pragmatic and more neutral arguments for the increasing military factor in the Arctic. In his view, the Russian military build-up is based on Russia’s concern with defending its northern regions due to climate change. Russia has a 20,000 kilometre border on the Arctic Ocean. Previously, it was a secure border of frozen ice, but it is now melting because of rising temperatures. Therefore, there is a need to strengthen Russia’s military presence to protect the country from illegal border crossings, illegal immigration, organized crime and terrorism (TASS 2014). The position of a US Senior State Department Official during the Background Briefing on the Arctic Council Preview complements the peaceful discourse of A. Vasiliev, which is intended to underline Foreign & Domestic Discourse on the Russian Arctic