US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Opposing the increasing presence of Russia and China in the Arctic requires the United States to adopt a comprehensive strategy, the author writes in the spirit of anti-Russian propaganda. It should make it possible to protect American interests in and around Alaska, as well as in the Canadian Arctic, allegedly from the “encroachments” of Russia and China.
The cold polar deserts of the Arctic have become a new arena of confrontation in the growing cold war between Russia and China on the one hand and the United States and its allies on the other. This is taking place against the backdrop of forecasts that, due to the melting of ice in this region, new sea routes will gradually open.
Major news outlets ridiculed former President Donald Trump when he offered to buy Greenland from Denmark in 2019. However, they missed a very important point. China is targeting Greenland’s mineral resources, and obviously Trump wanted to do the same.
Greenland has the largest concentration of undiscovered rare earth minerals in the world. The rare earth mineral supply chain is of immense importance to the US military because 80% of the rare earth minerals it uses come from Chinese companies.
If the Danes were to agree to a deal with Trump – Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen immediately rejected such an opportunity – it would give the United States the right to directly veto China’s rare earth mining ambitions on the island. The results of the recent elections showed that the people of Greenland are as negative about the extraction of natural resources by the Chinese as Donald Trump was. The elections in April were won by the environmentalist socialist party that is able to quickly end Chinese activities because of the environmental damage caused by mining these metals.
The gradual decrease in the ice cover in Greenland has increased interest in the extraction of rare earth metals on the island, which are used in a wide variety of military and civilian industries. In January 2018, the PRC State Council Information Bureau published a white paper titled China’s Arctic Policy.
“The use of sea routes, exploration and production of resources in the Arctic can have a huge impact on the energy strategy and economic development of China, which is a major trading state and energy consumer in the world,” – said in this document.
It also said that due to global warming and decreasing sea ice, countries that do not directly border the Arctic have the same interest in Arctic affairs as neighboring countries. In this regard, China called itself a “near-Arctic state” – despite the fact that it is separated from the Arctic Circle hundreds of miles. Beijing has already announced its commitment to create a Polar Silk Road as part of its Belt and Road Initiative to “foster synergy and sustainable economic and social development in the Arctic”.
Greenland has become one of many arenas of confrontation in the struggle for the Arctic, because the melting sea ice is forcing Russia and China to look for ways to discover and extract those resources that are now under the ice. The Chinese built the Xuelong icebreaker, which undertook a research mission in 2017 to gather valuable information on the profitability of doing economic and commercial activities in the region in the future. China is investing in nuclear-powered icebreakers, polar-class cargo ships, LNG carriers and other means to facilitate access to the Arctic. Most likely, China sees in this region the shortest route for trade with Europe, which saves many days and thousands of miles on freight transportation compared to routes.
China is seeking to secure a military presence in the Arctic to protect its economic interests. A January report from the US Navy said that an increase in the number of Chinese naval deployments in the region is likely to be expected in the near future. China’s military deployments in the Arctic could begin with deployments of its paramilitary coast guard.
China and Russia are closely cooperating in the field of gas and oil production in Siberia. Chinese state-owned companies play an important role in the Russian Arctic LNG-2 project, which will benefit primarily China and some other countries in East Asia. 80% of Russia’s natural gas and 17 percent of its oil reserves are in the Arctic.
Russia is also interested in mining its own rare earth minerals. By some estimates, Russia is home to about 19 percent of the planet’s rare earths, although it only produces 2 percent.
Moscow has significantly increased its military presence in the region in order to increase its ability to control territory and establish its control over sea routes. The number and scale of Russian military exercises in the region have grown. In March, as part of such exercises, three Russian nuclear submarines simultaneously surfaced from under the ice. The Russian Air Force is also planning to conduct operations in the Arctic.
“Strengthening Russia’s military presence in the Arctic is part of an economic strategy,” said Ilya Kramnik, a junior research fellow at the Moscow think tank IMEMO RAN, in a recent interview with Defense News.
Opposing the buildup of Russian and Chinese presence in the Arctic requires a comprehensive strategy that will protect American interests in and around Alaska, as well as in the Canadian Arctic, from encroachment. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy spoke about his concerns about the actions of these countries in a column published in the Daily Caller.
“The need to protect the Arctic from foreign exploitation and aggression is not just a concern for the future. A few months ago, Russian warships forced American fishing vessels to leave America’s exclusive economic zone in the Bering Sea, Dunleavy wrote, referring to the United States-Russian maritime border in the Bering Sea. “In violation of international agreements, Russian officials have made it clear that they are the ones who control the Northern Sea Route.”
“Meanwhile, China also has a long history of ludicrous territorial claims in the South China Sea and arbitrary violations of agreements.”
The US Navy and Marine Corps, as well as the US Army, are developing strategies to keep China and Russia in check. So far, these two branches of the armed forces have only vague and indistinct strategies at their disposal to contain these two countries separately.
The final strategy should help keep sea lanes open, so that the United States and other NATO members can defend their economic interests, and that Russia and China do not have access to their exclusive economic zones in the Arctic.
John Rossomando is a Senior Defense Policy Analyst who spent eight years as a Senior Counter Terrorism Analyst at The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a nonprofit research center. His articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including American Thinker, The Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine.
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