Nika Chitadze. Ph.D.
Director of the Center for International Studies
President of the George C. Marshall Alumni Union, Georgia. International and Security Research Center
Professor of the International Black Sea University
The melting of the Arctic ice cap in combination with developments elsewhere concerning future of energy and military security are creating scenarios that range from low level friction to potential conflict between the Arctic littoral states. Much attention has been devoted to maritime boundary disputes involving the Arctic states: Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the US. In addition to this, the emerging interest of non-Arctic states in shipping, polar research and non-living resource exploitation also adds uncertain elements to the Arctic geopolitical development.
Energy Factors: There are huge amount of energy resources of oil and gas in Arctic Region. According to the estimation of the US geological service, the resources of oil in Arctic (in both- shelf and ground part) prevails 90 billion barrels. Based on the data of “British Petroleum”, yearly in the world is consumed about 584 million barrels of oil (1,6 million barrels per day). Thus, based on the existed demand on oil, the resources of oil in Arctic will be enough for 154 years. The first company, which started the production the oil in the Arctic shelf was “Gazprom Oil”: First part of the “black gold” was received in December of 2013. However, such organizations in the field of environment protection as Green Peace and WWF, are protesting against exploring and producing activities at the oil fields in Arctic Region.
Legal regime of Arctic: International Regime of Arctic is determined by the international agreement. This region itself was divided on the five sectors for the responsibilities of USA, Russia, Norway, Canada and Denmark. Each littoral country determined under its jurisdiction concrete territory from the Northern pole and its coastal zone. Later, when the International Convention in the field of Maritime Law in 1982 was adopted, the zone outside of the continental shelf was declared as International. According to the new convention, under the status of territorial waters was declared the coastal zone for 12 miles and economic zone – the space for 200 miles from the coastal line.
Military Presence: Near to the Arctic Region, there are components of The missile attack warning systems of USA and Russia, also Missile interceptors of the US missile defense system (Alaska) and Russia (coast of Arctic Ocean). In Greenland - Thule Air Base - US Air Force's northernmost base (from the North Pole on the northwest side of the island) is located. In the Southern part of the Archipelagoes New Land (Novaia Zemlia), the Russian nuclear polygon is functioning. Since 2013, Russia started construction of the military base at Novosibirsk islands, Particularly, it is planned the construction seven northern aerodromes.
Arctic littoral states regularly organize military exercises in the region. For example, In 2013 Russia organized military exercises with the using of atomic submarines. At the same year, there were held exercises Arctic Challenge with the participation of Marine Forces of Finland, Sweden, Great Britain and USA. At the same year, at the polygons of the Northern Norway, Great Britain conducted the military exercises Cetus 13, which were focused on the sending decent under the conditions of the temperature, 30 degree below zero.
On March 6, 2018, Russia declared about creation the radar system for the daily monitoring and air intelligence of Arctic for the interest of the Northern Marine route development. At the same period, within the period March 8-15, 2018, in Alaska, with participation of 1,5 thousand US military serviceman (marine forces and other divisions) the Military Trainings Arctic Edge 18, were held.
On April 4, 2018, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared about purpose of the Alliance to increase the presence of Marine Military Forces in the Arctic Region as an counter action on the activities of the Russian side.
In order to deal with the Security problems in the Arctic Region effectively, it exists the great necessity to implement the deep analysis of the geopolitical, geo-economic and geo-strategic situation in Arctic region and determine – is the Arctic Region one more territory for the geopolitical rivalry or one more chance to develop integration processes among the different geopolitical “players” in the Region?