Is Russia Taking Advantage of Global Warming to Militarize Their Northern Coast?

By: Ali Rabbani

Russia militarized their Northern Coast and made it more convenient for new essential shipping routes through the Arctic. The world noticed that global warming is speeding up the melting of icebergs around the world, and Russia is demonstrating they are willing to contest for the new turf.  To understand what is really going on here, one needs to know something about international law. The U.N. has a maritime law that gives every country a border 200 nautical miles off their coast. Right now, coastal borders look like this (credit: It’s time to draw borders on the Arctic Ocean, Vox news.) The highlighted areas of the ocean belong

to their respective countries. These are called continental shelves, and the part in the middle belongs to any country that can prove it belongs to them. Countries can provide proof by making case studies to the U.N. to be reviewed, and then get backed by real U.N. scientists whether or not they can extend the continental shelf for a country. Iceland and Norway have submitted evidence for claims further into the North Pole, and were validated by the U.N. Greenland (Denmark) puts claims that extend into the north pole. Russia, on the other hand, has made claims well into these other countries’ maritime borders. Russia doesn’t need to concede to smaller nations like Denmark and Norway. 

Russia is planting their economy on a northern island called Svalbard, establishing its roots by sending Russian civilians to work and live there. Barentsburg, a town on the island, is being fully paid for by the Russian government to sustain jobs and establish tourism. Russia is doing this so that if resources are found on the island of Svalbard or off the coast, they can use the town of Barentsburg to say that they have rights to those resources. Mr. Harker, a history teacher at North Attleboro High School commented, “Russia has always been in an arms race with America since the Cold War. I believe Russia is planting their people in Arctic islands to gain territory and resources. I also believe that their influx of military superiority in the Arctic should be adequately recognized by NATO and the U.S.” The U.S. has some territory in the Arctic because of Alaska, but when it comes to the open water in the middle, the U.S. has no evidence to show that the water belongs to them. Because of this, the U.S. is a much smaller player in the Arctic than Russia, and the U.S. has little-to-no influence in that part of the world. Harker proclaimed, “The U.S should do more to militarize and take over the northern pole because shipping routes can be used by us to connect to the European and Asian markets by a few weeks quicker at least. The U.S. should use their power to take over and inhabit uninhabited lands in the Arctic!”

Russia is certainly militarizing their Northern Coast and using it for their own gain. Russian diplomats claim these advancements have no malicious intent behind them, but Russia is trying to get a step ahead of the world and take advantage of the melting ice. Russia will use their huge Northern coast to show that they will outweigh any nation who believes they can take them on in the Arctic. 

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