Главная The Arctic: zone of cooperation or confrontation?
The Arctic: zone of cooperation or confrontation? Печать E-mail

Recently Russian and American mass media began more frequently to pay attention to the studying of the arctic shelf and developing of the hydrocarbon raw which is situated in the depths of the arctic seas. After the series of marshes of the scientific expedition “Arctic -2007” on the atomic icebreaker “Russia” which were aimed on finding the identity of the underwater mountain ranges Lomonosov and Mendeleev with the continental part of Russia, the expedition of SRS “Academic Fedorov” to the North Pole and launching on 2 of august 2007 deepwater devices “Mir” to the bottom of the Arctic ocean the interest in this topic got not only scientific, economic, industrial, but also military-political character. The topic of the access to the treasures of the shelf became main in the serious discussions and in the announcements of the highest political authorities of some foreign countries, the activation not just scientific researches in the Arctic for grounds of the claims to the parts of the arctic shelf, but also military arrangements in order to save their own interests in this pantry of minerals. The editorial staff of the magazine asked its constant author Ury Banko to analyze the composed situation connected with these problems. This is the version for magazine. You can read the full version on the website of the publishing house “Helion” hellion-ltd.ru


The international Polar Year became the year of triumph for our scientists and seamen of the ice-breaking fleet, the important step of the work connected with confirmation of the boards of the Russian Arctic Shelf.

It is clear that success of Russia in the sphere of the Arctic researches isn't left without attention of scientists, politicians, militaries of different countries. In the mass media were made public the announcements of presidents, prime-ministers, parliamentarians who evaluated the well-founded claims of Russia to the increment of the arctic shelf, and who ventilated the reciprocal measures not only for the activation of the scientific researches in the Arctic, but for the enforcement of their military presence in this region.

The Eighth conference of the Arctic Region parliamentarians in Ferbex, Alaska on august of 2008 became one of the last actions in the series conferences, congresses and symposia devoted to the Arctic and the arctic shelf. In this conference took part parliament delegations of the member-countries of the Arctic Council: Russia, Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, The USA and European parliament. Russia was represented by the chairman of Murmansk Regional Duma Evgeny Nikonora, deputy chairman of the Federation Council Mikhail Nikolaev and the chairman of State Duma of Yamal-Nenetsky autonomous region, the president of Association of Indigenous Scanty Nations of the North, Siberia and the Far East.

Evgeny Nikora analyzing the situation with the irreplaceable energetic resources attracted attention of the participants of the conference to the opportunity of using gas-hydrate accumulation on the dry land and the Arctic Shelf. In particular, they were appraised only in the USA of 6000 bln cub m. At recovery efficiency of 1% (60 bln cub m.) this is twice bigger as all proved resources of gas in the USA. He appealed to create optimal conditions for using new, up-to-date and environmentally-friendly technologies in field development of the hydrocarbon raw materials.

As Evgeny Nikora noticed the atmosphere on the conference was friendly even during discussions devoted to delimitation of the Arctic Shelf. Nevertheless, it is needed to pay attention to the key points of the USA’s arctic politics highlighted by its representatives on the conference.

The American senator Lisa Murkowski established increased interest to the Arctic of non-arctic countries, which is connected, according to her opinion, with the decrease of the ice cover on the arctic seas and the appearance of new opportunities for the expansion of the arctic shipping and for the access to the natural resources. Particularly, China, Italy, South Korea wanted to get supervisors’ status in the Arctic Council.

The representative of the State Department Margaret Hayes, analyzing the aspects of the USA’s arctic politics, pointed out that the Arctic recently became the object of rapt attention of the US government, press and public. “The Arctic is strategically important for the USA”- she said. “We figure on the energetic resources, make significant scientific researches in the Arctic. It was emphasized that the Arctic is important from the view point of the national rescue of the USA.

During last one and a half year the US government changed cardinally their politic in the Arctic Region and amended the existed documents confirmed in 1994.

Underlined that Russia and Norway have already appealed to the UN’s Borders of the Continental Shelf Commission according par.76 of the Marine Law Convention, but Canada and Denmark are going to do so in 2013 and 2014, Margaret Hayes said that the USA also collect data about widening of their Continental Shelf in the Arctic, in the Atlantic, in the Mexican Gulf and in the Pacific ocean.

It is given 360 million dollars per year by the Interagency Arctic Research Politic Committee of the USA (IARPC) for the Arctic exploration.

Mid Treadwell the chairman of the US Arctic Research Commission called parliamentarians to have an influence on Russia in order to access to Russian waters for the foreign research ships to make more detailed study of the Arctic and its shelf.

On the 33rd World Geological Congress which took place in Oslo from 6th till 14th august 2008 all issues including the Arctic Shelf were examined. 6000 scientists participated in this congress, more than 80 main specialists of this sphere debated on main seven topics of the congress. Among Russian participants were 15 delegates from IMGCRE, also chairmen of Federal Agency for the Bowels usage, managers of SRI (Scientific Research Institute), the leader of Rossnedr and other representatives of the Russian geological sphere. The main topics were “the structure of the Earth’s crust from Lincoln’s sea to Lomonosov range (the Arctic ocean).”

The scientists from Canada and Denmark presented the results of geological research made in order to find bases for legal pretensions for the Arctic Shelf’s lots of the two countries. In particular, they stated the full data showing that the underwater range Lomonosov is the natural continuation of the North-American continent and the island Greenland. These conclusions go against the results made by Russian expedition a year ago and proved belonging of this mountain range to the Siberian continental platform.

The opening of Canadian and Denmark scientists became possible thanks to long-term mapping of the seas bottom and multimillion investments of the two countries governments. The final results will be used as main arguments in appeals which Ottawa and Copenhagen are going to send to specialists from the UN’s Commission on the Continental Shelf Boards.


These two shown examples of peaceful and friendly discussion of problems of the Arctic Shelf don’t reflex all sides of the confrontation of the governments which have their pretensions for the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. The article “The hot Arctic”, written by the governor of the Murmansk region Ury Evdokimov and issued by the publishing house “Tribuna”, which got the wide public resonance, where the author paid attention for the military-political aspect of the delimitation of the Arctic Shelf is the prove for that. Particularly, Ury Evdokimov writes: “Old and New World can’t live without shock. And if there is no any, it must be created. However, the replication of phobias and the means of fighting with them need causes. One of them became the expedition ‘the Arctic-2007’”.

The heightened attention to the Arctic, - writes Ury Evdokimov,- was whipped up by the beginning of the gas work on its Shelf, especially in the West Arctic seas where the huge inventories of gas and oil were found. The starting of the Norwegian project “Sn?rvit”, the future oil production on the field Prirazlomnoe and the preparing for mastering the Stockman field, the approval of the enormous resources of the disputable zone in the Barents Sea provoked the hit to the international interest of the hydrocarbon production in the Arctic.

20 countries said about there readiness for the Shelf development. As a result, appears the question of the re-examination of the conditional boards of the planet’s North. It is triggered by Canada, Japan, Germany, the USA and China. The join ability is viewed by India, Brazil, South Korea and others.

The Arctic turns into the Battle Field after the Second World War from the scientific and memorable ally cooperation arena. It is still virtual, but there are reasons to fight. The resources of the arctic oil increase 100 bln tons, this is 2, 4 more than all Russian inventories.

Ury Evdokimov paid attention to the call contained in the report made by EU’s High Commissioner on foreign affairs Javier Solana and by EU’s Commissioner on foreign connections Benita Ferrero-Valdner and send to the governments of 27 countries of the EU (and to NATO), “it is preparing for the fighting era for the energetic resources and … the dangerous confrontation between Russia and West”. Appearance of the Solana-Ferrero-Valdner clashed with the document, appealing to cardinal change of NATO. There states the question about the possible usage of NATO as “the instrument of the energetic security”.

The Solana-Ferrero-Valdner report is a serious attempt to launch the wide international discussion about the territorial claims for the Arctic. It is put against Russia, exactly against the second Russian appeal to UN’s Commission on widening the boards of its Arctic Shelf to the size of the polar ownership, pointed in 1926.


There are facts proving that Uri Evdokimov’s thoughts are not idle conjecture.

Cartographers from Durham University in Britain made the fist detailed map of the Arctic with highlighted places of possible future intergovernmental antagonisms. In their work they grounded on studies of the historical and modern disagreements on delimitations of this region. There are also unchallenged boards determined by the UN’s Convention on the Marine Law, lots that are the objects of claims, regions on which can pretend many countries on the map.

The head of research department of the University on boards questions Martin Pratt claimed that the detailed and classified cartographic information will help politicians in Britain and also in many other countries to have realistic method of solving the problems of delimitation of the Arctic Basin.
The scientists’ researches are relevant in the British analysts’ predictions concerning the leading of the fight for the territories and natural resources of the Arctic to the Second Cold War.

On July of 2008 in Washington, DC was an organized by the US Centre of Strategic and International Researches conference “The American strategy in the Arctic: energy, security and geopolitics on the Extreme North”. The representatives of legislative power and experts took part there. It was pointed that the USA are backward from other countries (Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark) in developing of the resources of the Arctic Shelf.

The republican senator of Alaska Lisa Murkowski pointed that “in the summer of 2007 Canada reacted immediately on the fact that the Northwest Pass melted”. “Ottawa claimed about the opening of the naval base and deepwater port in the Arctic, Russia claimed to the world by the expedition and the hoisting national flag in the North Pole”.

According to her words there “were few people who spoke about the development of natural resources of the Arctic”.

“However, prices for oil and new opportunities on developing the resources connected with the global warming change everything a lot, especially considering the fact that there are 25% of the worlds stocks of hydrocarbon in the Arctic. Russia is already making the concrete steps in this direction which are the building of the fist offshore drilling rig, which can stand -50°C”, she established. In the end she added that developing of the Extreme Pole should become one of the priority directions in the US administrative politic. She particularly said: “The Arctic is the last frontier for the USA”.

According to the latest prognoses the oil and gas consumption will increase by 50% during the 20-30 years, the search of the new raw materials sources has a great significance for the USA, as the head of energetic and national security programme David Pumphrey concluded.

The need of the US joining to the UN’s Convention on Marine Law was called the next stage on the way of the Arctic development and protecting of American interests in this region. That’s not all. On May of 2008 in Alaska was held the largest in the Arctic the yearly exercise of the US armed forces.

Its code name was “Northern Edge 2008”. There took part 5000 of military personnel attached to the bases in Alaska, California, Nevada and Japan, and also more than 120 planes and helicopters of the air force, army, naval force and marine troops.

There was also an exercise called “Operation Nanuk” in the Northern regions of Canada in august of 2008. The Defense minister Peter Mackey and the head of Defense Staff general Walter Natynczyk led the maneuvers. The main aim of the exercise was the showing of the Canadian readiness to protect its sovereignty in the eastern part of the Arctic also by means of force methods.

In April-September 2008 Canada planed to hold four big arrangements in the arctic regions of the country. On 28th of March the national armed forces held “the operation of showing the Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic” which was called “Nunaliwut” (from the Eskimos language “this is our land”).

In August the coastal command ship “Sir Wilfred Lorie” with Canadian researchers on the board went to the Arctic. Canada has already widened its military presence in this region, claimed about the intention to create deepwater port on the north extremity of the Baffin Island.

In the beginning of August 2007 during the visiting of the distant settlements of the Arctic Canadian Archipelago, the prime-minister of Canada Steven Harper claimed about the plans of building deepwater port in Nanisiwik on the north extremity of the Baffin Island. It is planed that during the shipping period in Nanisiwik there will base 6-8 up-to-date military patrol vessels, which should be bought. The preparing of the TEA in Nanisiwik on the base of the existing berth was set to the summer of 2008, which was left by the mining company CanZinco belonging to the deep underwater military port. Its building must have started in the summer of 2010; the fist stage of the implementation was planned on 2012, the last one by 2015.


The information service of “Radio Freedom” (USA) on 6th of May commented on the reaction of the head of the Main Department of Military Training and Troops Service of Armed Forces RF lieutenant-general Vladimir Shamanov to the US’s large-scale exercise “Northern Edge”. On 5th of May he claimed that the Military Management of Russia will respond to the American exercises in the northern latitudes by the correction of the military training plans for the reliable defense of the national interests in the Arctic. He pointed that American manoeuvres “Northern Edge 2008” in Alaska go against with the line of the international agreements about peaceful scientific work in the North and the South Poles.

In the similar clue on April during the meeting of the Marine Board the commander-in-chief of the Russian naval fleet admiral Vladimir Vysotski was speaking, he didn’t exclude the danger of the force actions in the conflict of interests in the Arctic. “There are still peace and stability in the North, however, we shouldn’t ignore the variant that there will be a side-chapel right up to the armed interference”, as he noticed.

24th of July 2008 in the Defense Ministry newspaper there was a published interview with the head of the Main Department of the Military Training of Russian Armed Forces lieutenant-general Vladimir Shamanov. Analyzing the interview the west experts pointed, that sayings of the military representative of high rank “signify the ability of the new confrontation in the Arctic”.

According to the opinion of the expert on problems of the polar politics of the Calgary University (Canada) Rob Hubert, lieutenant-general Vladimir Shamanov is trying not to obscure the issue by the artificial dramatizing of the situation, but let the northern neighbours know about the Kremlins determination to fortify the military presence in the region and guarantee there the positions of the chief power.


In spite of the upcoming cooperation between Norway and Russia on the developing of the Arctic Shelf and, particularly, Stockman, there are serious contradictions between our countries.

In the home and foreign politics of the Norwegian government the north territories have a prior sense.

When the cabinet of minister with Jens Stoltenberg in head on 25th of October began one-sided strengthening control of Oslo on the area of water near the archipelago Spitsbergen.

The head of the oil boarders of directors Gunnar Berge said firmly about the possibility of founding hydrocarbon deposits in the water areas of the Spitsbergen. According to his words, in case of the acknowledgement of legality of the claims to the Continental Shelf behind the latitude 81 North,

Norway will get the rights to developing of the oil and gas in this region.

The juridical status of the Isle grounded on the points of “Spitsbergen Treaty” signed 9th of February 1920 by the USA, Great Britain, France, the Nederland, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Japan and Norway. The official joining of the USSR to the document was firmed by decision of CEC in 1935. All in all the right of the equal access have 41 countries.

By the decree of 17th from December 1976 Norway obtained the water area of 200 miles from the coast line and along the continental shore and gave it the status of the exceptional economic zone. The law came into force on 1st of January 1977. As the result the sea zone of 1.5 sq. km. became under the jurisdiction of Norway.

Unfortunately, nowadays there are more often claims of high rank representatives of the Norwegian military-political management, witnessing of intension to continue and grow the ousting attempts of the Russian presence in the archipelago region, not excluding the usage of the force.

The programme of the development of the Northern Territories which called “Barents 2020” was worked out by Norwegians. According to politicians, this plan will become principal in the arctic regions politics of Norway. The presentation of the project was held on 10 of November in the Troms? University.

The main aim of “Barents 2020” is enforcement of the coordinating, leading and guiding role of Oslo in the Arctic development. According to the words of the head of MFA “the world should address to Norway in searching the understanding of problems and possibilities of the North”.

Recently one of the important aspects of the Norway foreign affairs deals is the complex of arrangements, pointed to the consolidation of the exceptional rights of this country to the natural resources of the Arctic seas.

This was said by the Norwegian minister of foreign affairs Jonas Gar Stere who highlighted, while performing on 10 of November 2005 in the Troms? University that Oslo “will aim to the international acknowledgement of its points of view concerning Spitsbergen, development of the oil and gas, and also the rational management of the resources”. Here the paramount question is the question of belonging and delimitation of the Continental Shelf.

But not all representatives of the political and scientific spheres of Norway have the optimistic mood about the ability of Oslo to prove legality of its demands. They refer to the opinion of the worlds leading countries. In particularly, quoting the announcement of the US State Department’s representative Amanda Rogers-Harper who said: “Washington supports the position according to which all participants of the Treaty from 1920 have the equal opportunities including the usage of the mineral resources, which can be found on the Continental Shelf belonging to the Spitsbergen”.

In the Russian embassy in Oslo there is reserved attitude to the comments of this question, it is considered there that the effect of the Treaty spreads to the whole Shelf and Russia has the same rights with Norway to the economic potential of this region.

On 1-st of December in Troms? the prime-minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg represented the strategic plan of the Extreme North development.

The priority directions of the state politic in this region will be:

- the preparing of the legal basis for the widening of the geological investigations in the North Pole;

- the groundings for putting into operation the all-purpose research ship of icebreaker type, which will allow Norway to stay in the Arctic waters all year round;

- the initiation of the project of the operational security rise of the oil development in the cold conditions called “The shield of the Barents sea” under the aegis of the programme “Barents 2020”, and also Russian-Norwegian programme on making the common standards in the sphere of the shelf and oil developments;

- creating the zone of economic and industrial cooperation on Russian-Norwegian board.

Accept the economical and political steps of solving of the Arctic Shelf problems, Norway made the steps in the military sphere. According to the commander-in-chief of armed forces of Norway Sverre Diesen, “the appearance of the new problems in the Extreme North can lead to the increasing of military presence which will play more important role during the future years”.

Spoke about the upcoming of the Russian-Norwegian cooperation the head of defense ministry pointed the existence of the stable relationships between the countries. Strem-Ericson also said that Norway government should react on the right way on the increasing of military budget and enforcement of the military presence made by Moscow. On the Norway Institute of Defense Researches and commander-in-chief of Norwegian Armed Forces general Sverre Diesen initiative in Troms? on 26 and 27 September 2007 there was an international conference on the security problems and the development perspectives of the Arctic territories.

Recently Norway cooperates with Sweden and Finland on its political line on the Arctic North questions. According to experts they speak about the plans of the cooperation of three countries on each direction including the military sphere.

On the congress of the big oppositional organization of Norway the Party of Progress the representative on the foreign affairs questions Morten Heylund claimed that “international course of the country should focus on the nearest regions of the Extreme North, but not on the crisis points of the planet. The Kingdom should take care of its own interests, and also use profoundly existing opportunities of the solving problems in nearest countries”.

According to the above-listed points, the words of the governor of the Murmansk region Ury Evdokimov become much more actual: “The ponderable military-marine presence of Russia in the Northern latitudes can have disillusioned effect on those who want to take away and divide. But pressure control of growing military potential is the straight way to the confrontation. Evidently, far-sighted and effective solution could be the maximal speeding of the realization of the gas-oil projects in the Russian Arctic Seas. The trample, slows that thinking about the economic profit of the using the Shelf in the period of the development of offshore technologies can put this country into outsiders in marine mining of the hydrocarbon. The development of the situation, speak about it west politicians or not, doesn’t exclude the variant, when the huge inventories of the natural resources in the Russian Shelf won’t be used by Russia, but by all countries especially well-developed and under the vigilant supervision of the USA”.

Uyry Banko
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