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Militarization of Arctic: Issue of Incredible Importance Not Given Due Attention to

The gradual militarization of the Arctic region is a reality.

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Authored by Alex Gorka via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific are not the only potential theaters of military operations. The Arctic is an area of geopolitical rivalry. The situation there is undeservedly kept out of media spotlight. Meanwhile, 2018 has brought new record lows in the extent of sea ice in the region.

Russia has presented a 1.2 million square kilometers Arctic claim to the UN. Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a Coastal state may claim rights to the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles by presenting scientific proof that it is a natural prolongation of its continental margin. The Russian Coastal exclusive economic zone can be extended, giving the state exclusive rights to exploit natural resources in the seabed and the ocean. Actually, Russia sits on $8.5 trillion oil reserves.

Moscow considers the Northern Sea Route (NSR) lying east of Novaya Zemlya and specifically running along the Russian Arctic coast from the Kara Sea, along Siberia, to the Bering Strait as the water area within Russia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in accordance with Article 234 of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. This article grants all littoral states the right, within their exclusive economic zones (200 nautical miles), to pass non-discriminatory laws and regulations concerning navigation in ice-field areas. The US is a signatory but Congress has not ratified the document. Washington does not recognize the Russia’s claims and seeks to internationalize the region.

The US, Canada, Denmark and Norway have their own claims. The Arctic is believed to hold more than $22 trillion worth of resources hidden beneath the ice, including 90 billion barrels of oil and 47 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. It’s only natural for states to have disputes as long as they are addressed on the basis of international law through negotiations. But the gradual escalation of tensions in the Arctic is a fact.

According to the Danish government’s 2018-2023 defense guidelines, there will be an impressive 20 percent increase in defense spending in the next six years. The Arctic is mentioned as an area of increased activity and military presence. In summer, Norway recommitted itself to NATO defense spending target of at least 2% of GDP with its new long-term plan for 2021-2024 having this commitment as a key premise. Oslo is to invest in “strategic capabilities”, such as the new F-35 stealth fighter, submarines and P-8 maritime patrol aircraft. Canada is to deploy an Arctic naval flotilla. Last year, Ottawa unveiled a plan to boost its defense spending by 70 percent (or more than $30-billion) over the next decade – much of it going to new warships and fighter jets. The Lomonosov Ridge is the main object of territorial dispute between Russia and Canada. It stretches 1,800 km from the New Siberian Islands cross the Arctic Ocean to the Canadian Ellesmere Island. Canada conducts military exercises in the area.

US green berets are training to fight Russia in the region. So US attack submarines are also holding drills. In March, more than 1,500 US military personnel from 20-plus units were brought together for the Arctic Edge 2018 military exercise. The US Coast Guard is looking to “weaponize” its icebreaker ships used to clear paths through the frozen seas. The US has stationed F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters in Alaska. The deployment provides the US with air superiority across the entire northern hemisphere.

Russia is implementing the State Policy in the Arctic Till 2020 and for a Future Perspective. The Arctic is a source of threat to Russia. US submarine-launched ballistic missiles fired from the waters near Norway would leave the Russian military less than 15 minutes to decide if an incoming object was a threat of not, where it was coming from, and how to respond. The Arctic is the only location to enable submarine-launched Tomahawks to strike the Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) bases in the Orenburg and Krasnoyarsk regions, as well as the Urals.

The Russian Northern Fleet is a joint force comprising 38 large surface ships, over 40 submarines, and an Army Corps including two infantry brigades. The 61st Naval Infantry Brigade is under the Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command. 7 of 10 combat ready fleet ballistic submarines are based there. About 60% of the operational fleet’s inventory falls on new weapons.

The Ratnik infantry combat system weighs 19–20 kg. It is designed for operations in the Arctic weather conditions to include a night vision helmet, body armor, communications equipment and headphones. All in all, the set comprises 10 subsystems and about 60 individual items. Weighing 7.5 kg, the class 6 armor protects almost 90% of a soldier’s body from 7,62mm rounds, even if fired at short range. It boasts special protection from detection by infrared devices. Made of lightweight carbon fiber, the exoskeleton supports the musculoskeletal system to help a soldier carry weights up to 50 kg during long distance marches.

The Strelets-2 voice and video communication system includes a GLONASS navigation module enabling a squad leader to see the location of each soldier on his book-sized computer as well as send videos and photos to headquarters. Besides each soldier has an individual telephone-sized tactical computer.

The soldiers have the Ruslan all-terrain vehicle, the GAZ-3344-20 all-terrain Tracked Vehicle, and the DT-10PM amphibious carrier. Able to defend airspace from enemy air attacks within a radius of at least 15 kilometers (9 miles), the new Tor-M2DT short-range air defense missile systems is the only system of its class designed specifically for the Arctic region weather conditions. It can protect from homing anti-radiation and cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, gliders, fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Its DT-30PM platform will be used for Grad and Smerch multiple launch rocket systems.

The air defense capability is going to be boosted with the S-400 Triumf and upgraded Pantsir-1S self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems.

The T-80BVM is perfectly suited for the specific weather conditions of the Arctic. It is the first Russian operational tank to be fitted with this new explosive reactive armor. Its upgraded gas-turbine engines has better performance in arctic conditions, starting in temperatures as low as 40 degrees Celsius and be ready for action in only minutes. Tanks with conventional diesel engines need some 40 minutes to warm up in Arctic weather conditions.

This year, Russia unveiled the new Chaborz M-3 buggy destined for operations in the Arctic version. This is a multipurpose lightweight off-road vehicle 4×2 designed for operation by Special Forces units in off-road conditions. It can accelerate it on road to a speed of 130 km/h.

This year, Ilya Muromets, the first icebreaker built for the Russian Navy in almost 40 years, entered service along with Elbrus logistics support vessel, Admiral Gorshkov Project 22350 frigate equipped with Kalibr long-range cruise missiles, and Ivan Gren large landing ship (Project 11711), the first vessel of the class. Bastion coastal defense missile systems have been deployed in the Murmansk region.

Academic Pashin tanker (Project 23130) is going through sea trials. Two Arktika-class nuclear double-hulled icebreakers out of six have already been launched. The plans include the construction of Lider, the projected super-powerful nuclear powered icebreaker. The first Ivan Papanin (Project 23550) class multipurpose patrol icebreaker, the lead ship of a series of two, is expected to be delivered to the Russian Navy by 2021. The ship is destined for monitoring and protection of Arctic waters, search and rescue operations, escorting of ships in polar waters, transportation of equipment and towing as well as maintenance and support for auxiliary vessels. It can provide protection for vessels operating in polar waters from air, sea and coastal targets.

Three more fleet ballistic submarines (Project 955) and three attack nuclear submarines (Project 885) as well as two more frigates (Project 22350) will enter service with the Northern Fleet in near future. Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier will also be back to the ranks after upgrade equipped with the naval version of Pantsir close-in air defense system. Bal coastal defense systems are going to be deployed too.

The gradual militarization of the region is a reality. There are two options here. One is turning the Arctic into a hotbed where a spark could kindle a big fire. The other launching a full-fledged dialogue to address security issues related to the region. Five of the Arctic Council’s eight members are part of NATO with Sweden and Finland being the privileged partners of the Alliance. It makes the issue part of the Russia-NATO relationship. Russia’s military activities in the region have nothing to do with saber-rattling but it has to protect its legitimate interests.

The events related to the US decision to leave the INF Treaty, Syria, sanctions wars and other things in focus of public attention should not eclipse this issue of utmost importance. Cooperating with each other is the only way to maintain safety and regional order in the icy region. A coordinated regional approach to Arctic governance under the framework of the Law of the Sea Convention will build confidence and prevent militarization. The time is right for the Arctic Council to turn into a security-focused forum.

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Shaun Ramewewigginsgra gorTom Welsh Recent comment authors
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Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

“The US is a signatory but Congress has not ratified the document”.

Then the US is NOT a signatory.

Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

“…such as the new F-35 stealth fighter…” 1. It’s not “new”. Development began in 1992 (26 years ago) and the first flight was in 2006 (12 years ago). Moreover, the F-35 was envisaged as a cheap and nasty substitute for the F-22, which proved too expensive even for Congress. The F-22 was designed from 1986 and first flew in 1997 – 21 years ago. 2. It’s very doubtful if the F-35 is in any way “stealthy”. It was intended to be, but compared to the F-22 many compromises were necessary to accommodate the ground-attack role that was added as a… Read more »

Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

“US green berets are training to fight Russia in the region”.

Then they had better get themselves some white berets, hadn’t they? Or better still, parkas with hoods and some thick gloves.

Tom Welsh
Guest
Tom Welsh

“The US has stationed F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters in Alaska”.

Perhaps to keep them safe from hurricanes?

Tom Welsh
Guest
Tom Welsh

“The deployment provides the US with air superiority across the entire northern hemisphere”.

Er, W-H-A-T??? That is such a ridiculously moronic statement I can’t even be bothered to destroy it.

wiggins
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wiggins

USS Cook…..

Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

“The Arctic is the only location to enable submarine-launched Tomahawks to strike the Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) bases…”

Yeah, just the way about 100 of them managed to destroy some empty building in Syria (and damage someone’s garden).

gra gor
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gra gor

Tom Welsh is having way too much fun analyzing this article… LOL Keeping it real for us readers. But it does raise issues that need to be addressed. Canada does need to quit spending the bulk of its military portion of its budget harassing Russian space in the Baltic & Black Seas and adventuring around the world with its 60 year old ship and pay more attention to investing in our own arctic coastline; Littoral craft, Icebreakers located on the North coast etc.. Right now it is an afterthought if though about at all. After all, unlike the Russians that… Read more »

Shaun Ramewe
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Shaun Ramewe

A literal meaning to the term ‘Cold War’!!

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Macron cuts ski holiday short, vowing crack down on Yellow Vests (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the 18th consecutive week of Yellow Vests protests in Paris. Following last weeks lower participation, Saturday’s Yellow Vests in Paris gathered larger crowds, with various outbreaks of violence and rioting that has been blamed on extreme elements, who French authorities claim have infiltrated the movement.

“Act XVIII” of the protests has shown that the Yellow Vests have not given up. France’s Champs-Élysées boulevard was where most of the violence occurred, with the street being left in a pile of broken glass and flames.

One day after Paris was set ablaze, French President Emmanuel Macron cut his ski holiday short, returning to Paris and vowing to take “strong decisions” to prevent more violence.

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Via Zerohedge


Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.

Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.

The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi “I’m going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces,” adding “I’m happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas” referring to the lack of snow in December.

In response to Saturday’s violence, Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.

Emmanuel Macron (2ndL), head of the political movement In Marche! (Onwards!) And candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (L) have lunch April 12, 2017 (Reuters)

 

 

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Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

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After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

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Ariel Cohen explains Washington’s latest foreign policy strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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