The United States has military claims to the Arctic, which are likely to be the true motives behind the Pentagon’s recent request for further research into the region, despite claiming that the tender was requested for exploratory purposes, experts suggested.
The Pentagon’s Defence Logistics Agency recently announced a tender to conduct market research into into several strategically important Russian territories and ports in the Arctic region to gather information about how these sites are supplied with bottled water, food, clothing, petroleum products and medicines, as well as what natural resources and materials are available there.
The areas under question include the Kolguyev Island, which is a strategic link between the Kola and Yamal Peninsulas; the Yamal Peninsula, which holds 45 percent of Russia’s established natural gas reserves; the Yamburg, Urengoy and Medvezhye gas fields; the Murmansk Region, which houses naval, particularly submarine bases and other key sites crucial to Russia’s security.
The tender requested information on key logistical communication sites, such as roads, railways, ports and airports, saying that the gathered data would be used to improve the capacity of the private sector to respond to unforeseen „emergency situations”.
However, given that the application was issued by Washington’s Defence Department, experts have their doubts on the authenticity of such claims.
Spheres of influence
The importance of the Arctic has been increasing over recent years, since the melting of the region’s sea ice has opened the possibility for further exploration of petroleum reserves in the area as well as navigation through the Northern Sea Route (NSR).
Russia has been making a major claim to the Arctic region, with 10 percent of its economic investments being funneled into the development and investment into the region, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a forum devoted to the coveted region this year. Additionally, Russia has been building up its military might along the NSR.
China has been another major player to invest into the region. In January, Chinese authorities issued a white paper outlining Beijing’s plans for the creation of the Polar Silk Road, which is a trade route in the Arctic Region, as part of its Belt and Road economic initiative.
The document outlined how China, which holds the status of observer in the Arctic Council, sought to cooperate with other countries to develop the region and will pursue its own interests, taking into account the interests of the global community.
The United States, which lays claim to the Arctic through its Alaska region, has similarly recognized the strategic importance of the newly developing frontier and in a paper, released by the Department of Defence in June, prioritized a strategic approach to the Arctic to counter China and Russia’s „competitive edge” in the northern region.
„The US fears the Russian presence and the growing Chinese interest in the Arctic area, due for the latter to the realization of the New Silk Road project. This fear is used by the Pentagon to strengthen the US military industrial complex”, Tiberio Graziani, the chairman of Vision & Global Trends, International Institute for Global Analyses, said.
Graziani added that the Pentagon’s request to gather additional information on the Arctic represented Washington’s true aims to militarize the region and intimidate Russia and limit China’s intentions to build partnerships with some Arctic nations.
Defence analyst, Lajos Szaszdi, echoed Graziani’s suspicions and said that such a detailed report on the sources of supply and infrastructure in the region probably meant that Washington was seeking ways to improve the fast and efficient deployment of supplies with the involvement of the private sector in terms of logistical support to US and NATO forces in case of conflict in the region.
„It is a request for intelligence research on the infrastructure and sources of supply in the Arctic region in general and regions of the Russian Arctic in particular, to support the logistical support of US and NATO forces in case there is an „emergency situation” that is military in nature”, Szaszdi said.
Szaszdi added that control over the NSR and access to key Russian strategic sites in the region would guarantee the United States a military advantage in the case that war broke out between the two superpowers and also allow it to successfully occupy the region if Russia were defeated.
„There may be plans that in case the United States and NATO defeat Russia in a major war, the United States would occupy territory in Russia’s Arctic region as part of an imposed peace for economic and strategic reasons, as part of a planned partition of the defeated country, as [Washington] has done in the past”, the defence analyst said.
Key allies such as Canada, Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom would undoubtedly provide crucial support to the United States in a military conflict, Szaszdi added.
The defence analyst concluded with a word of caution, saying that the United States should abandon its hegemonic claims to the region and work with major powers, including Russia, through diplomatic means of negotiations so as to avoid the potential scenario of mutually-assured destruction in the case of a nuclear war erupting if military conflict over the Arctic region breaks out.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.