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Russia and the Arctic | Posted on 2021-05-18 18:55

As we explained in our article of May 15 , the Arctic is one of the most coveted regions.

While the head of the diplomacy of the United States, Anthony Blinken, is visiting this region of the globe for the week, calling for enhanced cooperation between Greenland and his country, Sergei Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, bombs chest and sends a message that could not be clearer. With regard to the Arctic, he has just declared: “these are our lands and our waters […] it has been clear to everyone for a long time that these are our lands, our territory”. Barely veiled message to the United States and its allies, members of NATO. It would seem that Moscow does not appreciate the ambitions and repeated incursions of the West at all. And the Kremlin intends to remind the world that the Arctic is Russia's preserve.

Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland will meet at the Arctic Council in Reykjavik. As a reminder, these eight countries are the signatory members of this forum which was created in 1996. Its objective is to bring the eight states as well as the various indigenous communities and other inhabitants of the Arctic to coordinate their efforts in order to promote the sustainable development as well as protecting the environment in the Arctic.

However, the exchanges are likely to be a little tense. Indeed, the Arctic is a highly strategic region for Russia in more ways than one. Its soil contains immense natural resources which are vital for a country which essentially lives on the exploitation of hydrocarbons. In addition, the undeniable global warming that is taking place in the area has geopolitical consequences. The melting of the ice opens up new maritime routes and offers very large commercial prospects. Suddenly, this exacerbates the balance of power and the balances become precarious

This is what we can observe for a few months. Indeed, the tensions between Washington and Moscow are palpable and growing. Each country has repeatedly conducted military maneuvers in this area. On the one hand, Russia, which has reopened and modernized several bases and airfields abandoned since the end of the Soviet era, which has deployed its state-of-the-art S-400 anti-aircraft defense systems, carried out destruction simulations of aircraft, in-flight refueling and drone attack neutralization. And on the other hand, the United States, in February, sent strategic bombers to train in Norway and last year deployed ships in the Barents Sea, in the exclusive economic zone of Russia, sparking the protests from Moscow.

It is in this context of already complicated relations between the two countries that Anthony Blinken and Serguei Lavrov will meet for the first time. The latter, who may have a presentiment of a deaf diplomatic dialogue between two protagonists who will remain stuck in their positions, seems to prefer to rely on the military. Indeed, it is what he explained in substance by privileging the "revival of regular meetings between the chiefs of staff of the member countries of the Council in order to" reduce the risks on the military level " . The dialogue between the military being can be more effective and constructive than the political speeches.

One way or another, we will have to find a way to calm the spirits before the next meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Poutin scheduled for next June.

Posted on 2021-05-18 18:55

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