NEW YORK, May 5. /TASS/. The resource-rich Arctic region may be where Russia’s next standoff with the West unfolds, US news agency Bloomberg said in an opinion piece on Friday.
According to the agency, the Arctic has long been "kept away from geopolitics," but climate change and the race for far northern resources have reshaped the remote polar region, and its largely conflict-free status may now be jeopardized. With NATO expanding further and Sweden eventually acceding to the North Atlantic Alliance in the wake of Nordic neighbor Finland, which was admitted last month, Russia will be the only Arctic power remaining outside of the alliance, Bloomberg notes.
Natural resources are the main reason why certain Arctic countries have been petitioning the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to extend the borders of their respective Arctic shelves. According to a 2008 assessment by the US Geological Survey, about 90 billion barrels of oil, 1,700 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of gas condensate lie beneath the Arctic Ocean, with a substantial volume of estimated untapped offshore deposits of tin, gold, diamonds, mercury and ferrous metals.
"It’s global politics in a microcosm," Andreas Osthagen, senior researcher at Norway’s Fridtjof Nansen Institute, told Bloomberg, commenting on the region. "Fifty years from now, who knows whether we are still desperately trying to extract the last remaining oil and gas resources, <…> and these might be located in this part of the Arctic," he added.
Back in 2001, Russia filed its first petition to expand the border of its Arctic shelf, and in 2015 Moscow resubmitted a revised document that was approved by a CLCS sub-commission in April 2019. Denmark, Iceland, Canada and Norway have also filed such petitions. The United States remains the only Arctic country that has yet to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and thus is not entitled to file a petition of its own with the CLCS. However, Washington has also argued for an expanded claim to the US territorial share of the shelf.
In line with its recently updated foreign policy concept, Russia is set to counteract the course being pursued by unfriendly nations toward militarization in the Arctic, while aiming to find a peaceful solution to issues facing the region. Moscow intends to prioritize the peaceful resolution of international issues arising in the Arctic.