Category Archives: imperialism

EDITORIAL: Red Moldova, Red-faced Russia

Anti-communist protesters light a bonfire on the steps of their parliament in Moldova

Anti-communist protesters light a bonfire on the steps of their parliament in Moldova

EDITORIAL

Red Moldova, Red-faced Russia

Last Sunday, voters in Moldova returned the Communist Party to power in a massive landslide.  Two days later, Moldova’s streets exploded in violence, organized on Twitter.

Russia, it’s policy in shambles, is panicking and screeching hysterically about “foreign interference.”

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EDITORIAL: Girding for War in the Arctic

EDITORIAL

Girding for War in the Arctic

It’s time the Obama administration realized that the KGB Kremlin of Vladimir Putin is taking the new cold war very literally indeed.

Last week the Associated Press reported that according to a Kremlin strategy paper signed by Dmitri Medvedev “Russia plans to create a new military force to protect its interests in the disputed Arctic region.” According to the AP:  “The Kremlin paper says the Arctic must become Russia’s “top strategic resource base” by the year 2020.”  The paper “calls for strengthening border guard forces in the region and updating their equipment, while creating a new group of military forces to ‘ensure military security under various military-political circumstances'” and states that by 2011 Russia will have “proved” its Arctic borders.

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Springtime War in Georgia?

The always brilliant Pavel Felgenhauer, writing on the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor:

Six months after the French-brokered agreement ended the Russo-Georgia war on August 12, 2008 the ceasefire continues to be fragile with constant incidents that both sides describe as “provocations.” Last month the Defense Ministry of the separatist South Ossetia said Georgia was moving troops towards its border (RIA-Novosti, January 9). This week the South Ossetian authorities again accused Georgia of “increasing preparations to begin an aggression” and firing two RPG-7 shells at the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali and accused EU observers that monitor the Georgian side of the ceasefire line of turning a blind eye to the alleged Georgian military buildup. On January 26, Tbilisi signed an agreement with the EU observer mission to limit its armed presence near South Ossetia and Abkhazia to one battalion (500 men) and exclude all heavy weapons. The South Ossetian authorities called this agreement a sham to cover “the preparation of an aggression” (Interfax, February 9).

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EDITORIAL: Condemning Russian Aggression in Georgia

EDITORIAL

Condemning Russian Aggression in Georgia

On January 23rd the Human Rights watch released a 200-page report entitled  “Up in Flames: Humanitarian Law Violations in the Conflict Over South Ossetia.”   Based “on more than 460 interviews done over several months of field research” the report “details indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks by both Georgian and Russian forces, and the South Ossetian forces’ campaign of deliberate and systematic destruction of certain ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia. It also describes Russia’s failure to ensure public order and safety in areas of Georgia that were under its effective control.”

The New York Times reported:

Russia and Georgia had opposite reactions to [the] report. Moscow said it was “based on a series of shopworn and baseless theses actively discussed in foreign political and media circles.” Tbilisi called it “an objective and thorough picture.” Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Human Rights Watch, based in New York, had said “practically nothing about the colossal damage” to South Ossetia “as the result of Georgian aggression.” Georgia said the report “unambiguously places responsibility on the occupation forces of the Russian Federation and its proxy regime for ethnic cleansing and war crimes.”

In other words, once again Russia has suffered a crushing defeat in the PR campaign over the war in Georgia and been exposed as the wanton aggressor.   When a study finds that Russia is in the wrong, that study is “shopworn and baseless.” But if the study had found Russia was 100% in the right, the Kremlin would have praised it to the sky.  Welcome to the through-the-looking-glass world of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

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Putin and “Greater Russia”

Jeremy Putley tips La Russophobe to the following item in the Financial Times that puts Vladimir Putin’s KGB regime squarely in the crosshairs.  Two years ago, Putley defined the “Putin Doctrine” as follows:

The collapse of the USSR had been a catastrophe; only one thing could be worse, and that was a similar dismemberment of the Russian Federation, with constituent states seceding one after another. Putin and his advisers concluded that regardless of any other consideration the risk of such a break-up justified extreme measures to prevent it” and so it was driven by a “territorial imperative” in which “the ends justify the means ­– any means at all, including all-out war such as was launched in Chechnya by Vladimir Putin in 1999 as prime minister and then carried on by him as president. The faking of elections is a trivial crime by comparison with what preceded them, but they are in an unwavering continuum. There is nothing enigmatic or hard to understand about Putinism.” I think these observations stand the test of time. 

And now we see that doctrine horribly realized before our gaping eyes! Here’s the FT response:

We need to get this straight. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has invaded a neighbour, annexed territory and put in place a partial military occupation. It seeks to overthrow the president of Georgia and to overturn the global geopolitical order. It has repudiated its signature on a ceasefire negotiated by France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and disowned its frequent affirmations of Georgia’s territorial integrity. Most importantly: all of this is our fault.

The “our” in this context, of course, refers to the US and the more headstrong of its European allies such as Britain. If only Washington had been nicer to the Russians after the fall of the Berlin Wall. If only the west had not humiliated Moscow after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Surely we can see now what a provocation it was to allow the former vassal states of the Soviet empire to exercise their democratic choice to join the community of nations? And what of permitting them to shelter under Nato’s security umbrella and to seek prosperity for their peoples in the European Union? Nothing, surely, could have been more calculated to squander the post-cold-war peace.

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Beware of Russian Imperialism

Writing in the Brisbane Times Robert Horvath, of Australia’s La Trobe Univerisity, sounds the clarion call of warning on Russian imperialism:

PERHAPS the worst thing about the anti-American left is not its prejudices but its parochialism. Fixated upon the evils of US global hegemony, its publicists turn a blind eye to the imperialism of regimes opposed to that hegemony.

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Russia Destroys its Relations with the United States

Reuters reports that both U.S. presidential candidates have condemned Russia’s action in Georgia in the strongest terms, after the White House declared:  “If the disproportionate and dangerous escalation on the Russian side continues, this will have a significant long-term impact on U.S.-Russian relations.”

U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain stepped up their criticism of Russia’s military activity in Georgia on Saturday, calling for Moscow to withdraw its forces and the international community to facilitate peace talks. McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona who has made foreign policy and national security the centerpiece of his campaign, said he spoke to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Saturday, their second conversation since the crisis erupted. Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, said he had also spoken to Saakashvili and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Russia and Georgia came into direct conflict after Tbilisi launched an offensive to regain control over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

McCain, an outspoken critic of Moscow, said it was clear the situation in Georgia was dire. “Tensions and hostilities between Georgians and Ossetians are in no way justification for Russian troops crossing an internationally recognized border,” he said in a statement. “I again call on the government of Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces from the territory of Georgia.”

Obama called for direct talks among all sides and said the United States, the U.N. Security Council and other parties should try to help bring about a peaceful resolution. “I condemn Russia’s aggressive actions and reiterate my call for an immediate ceasefire,” Obama said in a statement. “Russia must stop its bombing campaign, cease flights of Russian aircraft in Georgian airspace, and withdraw its ground forces from Georgia.”‘

 

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A Clarion Call on Russia

A brilliant editorial in the Washington Post:

THE OUTBREAK of fighting between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia was sudden but not surprising. Conflict has been brewing between Moscow and its tiny, pro-Western neighbor for months. The flashpoints are two breakaway Georgian provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia — the latter being the scene of the latest fighting. The skirmishing and shelling around Georgian villages that prompted Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to launch an offensive against the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, may or may not have been a deliberate Russian provocation, to which Russia’s tank and air assault was the inevitable follow-up.

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The Sunday Conquest

The Associated Press reports:

A senior Russian general says Russia will conduct military exercises in the Arctic to uphold the country’s claim to the region’s vast natural resources.

Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, in charge of military training at Russia’s Defense Ministry, also said planning for the exercises began after several nations disputed Russia’s Arctic claims. “Modern wars are won or lost long before they start,” Shamanov told the military daily Krasnaya Zvezda in an interview published Tuesday. He noted that 5,000 U.S. troops were involved in the Northern Edge military exercise in Alaska last month.

Canada and Denmark have also been involved in the race to claim the area’s extensive oil and other resources. Russia last August sent two mini-submarines to plant a Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole, staking its claim on an underwater mountain range that is believed to contain huge oil and gas reserves. A U.S. study suggests the area may contain as much as 25 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas.

After the Russian expedition, Canada vowed to increase its icebreaker fleet and build two new military facilities in the Arctic. The U.S. government also sent an icebreaker for a research expedition. Russian officials say preliminary results on soil core samples gathered by the expedition show that the 1,240-mile Lomonosov Ridge under the Arctic is part of Russia’s shelf. More geological tests are planned.

Denmark has also sent scientists to seek evidence that the underwater ridge is attached to its territory of Greenland. The dispute over who controls what in the Arctic has become more heated with growing evidence that global warming is shrinking polar ice, opening up new shipping lanes and resource development possibilities.

Yet in May, representatives from Denmark, Norway, Russia, Canada and the United States met in Ilulissat, 155 miles north of the Arctic Circle, to reaffirm their commitment to international Arctic treaties. Under the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, Arctic nations have 10 years after ratification to prove their claims under the largely uncharted polar ice pack. All countries with claims to the Arctic have ratified the treaty, except for the United States.

President Bush has been pushing the Senate to ratify the treaty.

The Eye of Putin Turns East

Writing in the Wall Street Journal Asia Michael Auslin, a resident scholar in Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, urges us to watch out for neo-Soviet imperialism in Mongolia:

While Washington continues to fixate on Iraq, a resurgent Russia is steadily expanding its influence in Eurasia. If the next U.S. president ignores Moscow’s inroads, democratic development in Asia will come under threat, and the United States may soon be faced with a strategic challenge in one of the world’s most resource-rich regions.

The Kremlin’s main target of late is Mongolia, one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies. Since first holding elections in 1990, Mongolia has developed a stable electoral system with more than 15 political parties and seen two peaceful handovers of power. Mongolians will vote on June 29 to elect a new parliament. Polls suggest the ruling ex-Communist Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, which regained power in 2000, could lose power to the opposition Democratic Party.

Regardless of the election outcome, Mongolia’s relationship with Moscow will take center stage. State-owned oil company Rosneft supplies more than 90 percent of Mongolia’s oil. Over the past three months, it has increased prices twice — by an average of 20 percent each time. This comes on top of surging prices that, since 2006, have pushed inflation in Mongolia to over 15 percent annually. Rosneft recently told Mongolian officials that it would lower oil prices if given the rights to run oil production in the country. Moscow also wants to build 100 gas stations throughout the country, which would solidify its overwhelming presence there and reduce consumers’ energy choices even further.

Similar tactics are afoot in other sectors of Mongolia’s economy. Russian enterprises already own 49 percent of Mongolia’s national railway and its largest copper and gold mining companies. An industrial group founded by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wants to consolidate the Russian-controlled shares of all three companies, effectively giving Putin’s cronies a near-stranglehold on key players in the Mongolian economy. Officially, Mongolian officials express confidence in the benefits of deeper economic relations with the Kremlin. Privately, they admit to feeling pressured into opening up their markets to Moscow and wish more Western companies would invest.

Despite these misgivings, Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar visited Moscow last month and agreed to discuss further joint uranium production and nuclear cooperation. President Dmitry Medvedev stated that bilateral trade will soon exceed $1 billion, cementing Russia’s position as Mongolia’s largest trading partner after China. If these trends continue, Mongolia may become an economic satellite of Putin’s newly expansive Russia.

The stakes are high for fledgling Asian states, especially democracies, which must balance satisfying Russian demands with proving to their own people that they can protect their independence. If Russia succeeds in blackmailing Mongolia into economic subservience, then it can try to extend this tactic to Central Asian nations.

Imagine the precedent that would set. China could also decide that painstaking negotiations and diplomacy are a waste of time when it can bring its export and import power to bear. Democratic Japan and South Korea could feel greater pressure to join exclusive trading blocs led by authoritarian regimes. Finally, Mongolia and other states might be asked to make strategic concessions to Russian security forces to “protect” Moscow’s investments. In this way, Russia could gain new opportunities to expand its military footprint beyond its own borders.

What can Washington do? First, it must encourage greater U.S. trade with Mongolia. Total trade stood at about $120 million in 2007. The United States should push beyond the 2004 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and start negotiations for a full free trade agreement. In addition, the U.S. government-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation should increase its outlay for infrastructure projects in Mongolia far beyond the current total level of $285 million. Mongolians can also help themselves in this regard. Lingering governance problems partly account for slack Western investment.

Second, the United States should marshal global opinion against the Kremlin’s strong-arm tactics and condemn exclusive economic arrangements. Developing states must be assured that no economic leverage will be used against them to secure unfair advantages. So far, the United States and other democracies in Asia have stood silently by as Russia has stepped up its bullying of Mongolia.

Third, Washington can push forward with the Asia-Pacific Democracy Partnership project, proposed by President George W. Bush at the 2007 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, and unite Asia’s free nations to support democratic values and assist states building liberal systems. Mongolia should feel that the United States is committed to linking up democratic nations in the region and addressing common concerns, be they economic or strategic in nature.

Finally, the United States and Mongolia can deepen their impressive security cooperation, which includes joint training and peacekeeping exercises. Even without a formal security relationship with the United States, Mongolia has built a training center for peacekeeping operations and dispatched nearly 200 troops to Iraq. For a young democracy, Mongolia has shown a welcome willingness to look beyond its borders and play a constructive role in the world. When Bush visited Mongolia in November 2005, he called Mongolia a “brother in the cause of freedom.” Now is the time for the United States to help protect that freedom from economic and political threats alike.

Russia backs down on Arctic Imperliasm

In yet another craven show of weakness, a pathetic back-down on the wild-eyed attempt to seize the Arctic. The Canadian Press reports that Russia has once again bitten off much more than it can chew:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has downplayed his country’s placing of the national flag under the ice at the North Pole, saying it was not meant to signal Russia’s claim to the Arctic.

A Russian scientific expedition deposited a rustproof titanium version of country’s flag on the seabed at the pole last year. The act heated up the controversy over an area that a U.S. study suggests may contain as much as 25 per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas.

“It should be seen basically the same way as the American flag was planted on the moon sometime ago,” Lavrov said Tuesday.

In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin erected a U.S. flag when they became the first men to land on the moon.

Lavrov, who was headed to a meeting in Greenland to discuss sovereignty in the Arctic, said the flag at North Pole was not a political event.

“You shouldn’t be in this fascinating game of treating this particular, scientific, human achievement as anything else,” he told reporters.

Interest in the region is intensifying because global warming is shrinking the polar ice, and that could someday open up resource development and new shipping lanes.

“There is no claim for any territory. There couldn’t be because as I said there is a sea convention, there are mechanisms created to implement this conventions, including for the continental shelf,” Lavrov said.

Under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Arctic nations have 10 years after ratification to prove their claims under the largely uncharted polar ice pack. All countries with claims to the Arctic have ratified the treaty, except the United States.

Canada has announced plans to build a new army training centre and a deep-water port in Arctic waters. Norway, the United States and Denmark also have claims in the vast region.

Denmark is gathering scientific evidence to show that the Lomonosov Ridge, a 2,000-kilometre underwater mountain range, is attached to Greenland, making it a geological extension of the sparsely populated giant island that is a semi-autonomous Danish territory.

A UN panel is supposed to decide the Arctic control by 2020.

Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn is representing Canada at the meeting on the Arctic this week in Ilulissat, Greenland. Officials from Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States will also be there.

Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller will co-host the conference with Greenland Premier Hans Enoksen.

Moeller reiterated that the aim of the meeting was to reaffirm the nations’ commitments to international treaties governing the region.

Luzkhov, Run Amok

Reuters reports on more proof of Russia’s friendly, benign intentions towards its neighbors:

Ukraine banned Moscow’s mayor from the country on Monday after he called for Russia to take ownership of the Black Sea naval port of Sevastopol, a ban which immediately angered Russia. Rows over Kiev’s ambitions to join NATO and the price of Russian gas to Ukraine have already dented relations between the two former-Soviet neighbors over the last few years. Ukraine’s security service issued Monday’s ban on Mayor Yuri Luzhkov the day after he told a crowd of supporters in Sevastopol celebrating the 225th anniversary of the foundation of the Black Sea fleet that Moscow should reclaim the base. Russia rents the Sevastopol base from Ukraine. The ban annoyed Russia’s foreign ministry. “We qualify this decision by the Ukrainian authorities as an unfriendly move which runs against mutual efforts to build an atmosphere of confidence and mutual understanding in Russian-Ukrainian relations,” the ministry said in a statement. The 18th century Russian Empress Catherine the Great established the base at Sevastopol but Ukraine inherited it in 1991 after the break up of the Soviet Union.

Russians: Can they do ANYTHING on Their Own?

In a nice bit of reporting that’s only about six months late, the New York Times reveals that Russia relied on American ingenuity in order to make its visit to the sea floor below the polar ice cap, then — as is its wont — tried to claim the credit for itself, stabbing the American in the back.

Last August, a team of Russian scientists and legislators trekked to the North Pole and plunged through the ice pack into the abyss, descending more than two miles through inky darkness to the bottom of the ocean. There, explorers planted Russia’s flag and, upon surfacing, declared that the feat had strengthened Moscow’s claims to nearly half the Arctic seabed. The ensuing global headlines fueled debate over polar territorial claims.

But that wasn’t the whole story. The heroes of the moment did not mention that the dive had American origins. Alfred S. McLaren, 75, a retired Navy submariner, would like to set the record straight and, as he puts it, “acquaint the Kremlin with the realities” of recent history and international law. A major figure of Arctic science and exploration who spent nearly a year in operations under the ice, Dr. McLaren says he developed the polar dive plan and repeatedly shared his labors with the Russians and their partners — a claim he supports with numerous e-mail messages and documents.

The Russians, for their part, acknowledge that Dr. McLaren played a central role in the dive’s origins. But they say he took no part in substantive planning and logistics. Dr. McLaren’s plan drew on federal polar data and recommended specific sensors and methods to ensure a safe return. “I wrote the procedures for the dive,” he said in an interview. The Russians, he added, “went for the territorial claim.” Don Walsh, a pioneer of deep ocean diving who worked on the Arctic plan with the Russians, backed the account. The divers, Dr. Walsh wrote in an e-mail message, “did not develop the original idea, the operational plan and they did not pay for it” because wealthy tourists picked up the bill. “I am sure,” he added, “that this example of how to steal your way to fame will become a legend in the history of exploration.”

The Russians say they took little or nothing. “Talk is cheap,” Anatoly M. Sagalevitch, the expedition’s chief scientist, said in an interview. “But real operation, this is different.” President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has made the most of the divers’ feat, personally greeting them upon their return and announcing last month that Dr. Sagalevitch and two other team members would be named Heroes of Russian Federation, the nation’s highest honorary title.

Dr. McLaren first got to know the Russians through the lens of a periscope. As a submariner, he conducted more than 20 secret missions during the cold war, mainly in nuclear attack submarines. Three of his voyages ventured beneath the Northern ice pack, gauging its thickness, probing the dark waters below and bouncing sound waves off the bottom to map the craggy seabed. An important goal was to find safe submarine routes near the Soviet Union in case the cold war turned hot. Over all, he spent nearly a year under the polar ice. In 1972, he won the Distinguished Service Medal, the military’s highest peacetime award. He left the Navy in 1981 and earned a Ph.D. in polar studies from the University of Colorado in 1986. After the cold war, Dr. McLaren began working with his former enemies, lecturing aboard Russian icebreakers that carried tourists to the North Pole. He did so repeatedly while president of the Explorers Club, a post he held from 1996 to 2000. The idea for a polar dive arose in early 1997 when a television journalist, Jack McDonald, had dinner with Dr. McLaren and asked if anyone had ever gone to the bottom. The two decided to explore the possibility. “We spent a lot time on it,” recalled Mr. McDonald, who planned to make a documentary. The team envisioned going down in a submersible — a small craft with a super-strong personnel sphere that typically carries a pilot and two observers. Tiny portholes designed to withstand crushing pressures let the occupants peer out. A dive is typically an all-day affair, requiring hours to go down to the bottom and back up.

Later in 1997, Dr. McLaren attracted the interest of Mike McDowell, an adventure tour operator who organized the polar voyages. The next year, Dr. Sagalevitch, who runs Moscow’s twin Mir submersibles, came aboard. In 1999, the three men began diving in the Mirs to visit the deteriorating remains of the Titanic and the Bismarck. The dives were seen as practice runs for the polar plunge. All told, Dr. McLaren dived in the cramped submersibles five times. In 2001, Dr. McLaren wrote a polar dive plan for Dr. Sagalevitch in Moscow. Drawing on decades of federal polar data, it gave information like mean ice thickness (about 8 feet), water depth (about 2.6 miles) and salinity near the bottom (34 to 36 parts per thousand). “Jagged underwater projections and spurs,” the plan warned, could endanger a submersible.

The document, seven pages long, paid special attention to making sure the returning Mirs could find the hole through which they had entered the Arctic Ocean and not become trapped beneath the thick surface ice. It called for special upward-looking sensors. “Thank you for your recommendations,” Dr. Sagalevitch wrote in an e-mail message after receiving the plan. For several years the Explorers Club, based in New York City, marketed North Pole dives to adventure tourists. A cabin would be $16,000, a suite $21,000. The actual dive beneath the pole: $50,000 extra. Despite a flurry of interest, the spectacle did not materialize.

By 2005, the plan collapsed. In a bitter e-mail exchange, Dr. McLaren accused Mr. McDowell, the tour operator, of abruptly removing him from the polar dive roster and evading commitments that would have aided fund-raising. “You did not bother to answer any of my messages,” he wrote. Mr. McDowell in turn accused Dr. McLaren of failing to recruit dive sponsors and defended his removal as necessary because of rising costs and the need to attract more paying tourists. “I do all the work and take all the financial risk,” he added. Dr. Walsh, who worked with both men, laid the rupture to personality conflicts. “We were top-heavy in chiefs and needed more braves,” he said.

Another factor was the Kremlin, which was seeking new displays of geopolitical muscle. It seized control of the project. On Aug. 2, 2007, Dr. Sagalevitch and Mr. McDowell descended to the bottom, taking along two Moscow legislators. The polar dive was part publicity stunt and part symbolic move to enhance the Kremlin’s disputed claim to nearly half the Arctic seabed. It made global headlines, with much comment on Moscow’s new swagger. Time magazine’s cover article asked, “Who Owns the Arctic?” After the dive, many nations sharpened their claims. Denmark mapped icy regions. The United States mounted a polar expedition. And Canada unveiled plans for an Arctic military base. “The first principle of Arctic sovereignty,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada said in a much quoted statement, “is use it or lose it.”

Dr. McLaren grew livid as the dive’s impact spread. He now ridicules the Russian territorial claims as not only empty but duplicitous because of his unacknowledged contribution. He said, however, that he harbored no hard feelings against the Mir team. For his part, Mr. McDowell vigorously denied any fault and said any aid from Dr. McLaren was immaterial to the Russian feat. “What he’s saying is complete rubbish,” Mr. McDowell said from Australia, where he lives. “He’s all bent out of shape because he wanted to be first to the pole. Well, it just didn’t work out that way.” Dr. Sagalevitch confirmed that the original idea for the polar dive arose with the Westerners but said that he and his team had developed it exclusive of Dr. McLaren’s advice since 1998. “Fred was so far from any dive plan,” he said. “He doesn’t understand the technical side of the operation. He doesn’t understand the submersible.”

If there are fireworks, they may erupt March 15, when the Explorers Club will hold its annual dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria. All the dive planners and doers are to be there, with Dr. Sagalevitch getting an award for excellence in ocean science. It will be a bittersweet moment for Dr. McLaren, who helped Dr. Sagalevitch and Mr. McDowell become members when he was club president. At the dinner, the Russian dive team is to complete a triumph: returning a club flag that it carried to the polar seabed. Dr. McLaren said he planned to go to the dinner but might excuse himself from the room when the flag was returned.

Cohen on Russia’s Neo-Soviet Arctic Gambit and Why it Must be Stopped

Writing in the Washington Times the Heritage Foundation’s Ariel Cohen (pictured) lays bare the horror of Russian imperialism in the Arctic (hat tip: Robert Amsterdam).

By planting the Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole and claiming a sector of the Continental Shelf the size of Western Europe, Moscow generated a new source of international tension, seemingly out of the blue.

Geopolitics and geoeconomics are driving Moscow’s latest moves. The potential profits are certainly compelling. Geologists believe a quarter of the world’s oil and gas — billions of barrels and trillions of cubic feet — may be located on the Arctic Continental Shelf and possibly under the polar cap.

The Arctic, the final frontier, also harbors precious, ferrous and nonferrous metals, as well as diamonds. At today’s prices, these riches may be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And if the ice caps melt and shrink, not only will these resources will be more accessible than they are today, but a new sea route along the northern coast of Eurasia may be open to reach them.

The other side of the economic coin is political — the exploration and exploitation of polar petroleum and other resources may be a mega-project for the 21st century — the kind of opportunity that Russia is seeking to satisfy its ambition to become what President Vladimir Putin has termed “an energy superpower.”

In 2001 Russia filed a claim to expand the continental shelf with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf under the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), to which it is a party. However, in 2002 the commission declared it neither accepts nor rejects the Russian claim, and demanded more study. Russia plans to resubmit the claim, and expects to get the answer by 2010.

Russia’s claims are literally on thin ice. Moscow is extending its claim to the Arctic Ocean seabed based on its control of the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge, two underwater geological structures that jut into the ocean from the Russian continental shelf. However, it looks like the ridges do not extend far enough to justify Moscow’s claims beyond its 200-mile economic zone, while other countries also claim control of the same area.

This latest move by Moscow is also a chilling throwback to the 1930s Stalinist attempts to conquer the Arctic during the years when the U.S.S.R. was seized by fear and hatred. Stalin and his henchmen executed “enemies of the people” by the hundreds of thousands in mock trials and in the basements of the Lubyanka secret police headquarters, or in unnamed killing sites in the woods. Those not yet arrested were forced to applaud the “heroes of the Arctic”: pilots, sailors and explorers, in a macabre celebration of Stalinist tyranny.

To the regime’s critics, today’s expedition is a chilly reminder of the brutal era when millions of Gulag prisoners were sent to the frozen expanses to build senseless mega-projects for the power-crazy dictator.

Today’s Russian rhetoric is reminiscent of the past two centuries. The leader of the Arctic expedition, Artur Chilingarov, deputy chairman of the Russian Duma, proclaimed, “The Arctic is ours and we should manifest our presence.” Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Institute declared, “This is like placing a flag on the moon” — conveniently forgetting the United States never claimed the moon as its territory.

Andrei Kokoshin, chairman of a parliamentary committee on the ex-Soviet region, said Russia “will have to actively defend its interests in the Arctic” and called for reinforcing Russia’s Northern Fleet and border guard units and building airfields to “ensure full control.” Vladimir Putin spoke on a Russian nuclear powered ice-breaker earlier this year, urging greater efforts to secure Russia’s “strategic, economic, scientific and defense interests” in the Arctic.

A crisis over Russian claims in the Arctic would be perfectly avoidable, if Russia is prepared to behave in a more civilized manner. If Moscow suggested exploring the Arctic’s wealth in a cooperative fashion, in partnership with the United States and other countries aboard, this could become a productive project that furthered international cooperation. However, the current rush to dominate the Arctic Ocean and everything under it indicates that greed and aggression characterize the new Russian polar bear.

The State Department has expressed its skepticism regarding planting of the Russian flag, and said it has no legal standing or effect on Russia’s claim. Canada has voiced similar objections.

To stop the expansion, the U.S. should encourage its friends and allies — Canada, Denmark and Norway — to pursue their claims in the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. While the United Sates has not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), other Arctic countries, including Norway and Denmark, have filed their own claims with the Commission, opposing Russian demands.

The Nordic countries do not view Russia’s attempted seabed grab kindly. Nor should they. The U.S. should also encourage Canada to coordinate a possible claim through the International Justice Court in The Hague against the Russian grab.

Russia’s decision to take an aggressive stand has left the U.S., Canada and the Nordic countries little choice but to design a cooperative High North strategy, and invite other friendly countries, such as Great Britain, to expend the necessary means to build up the Western presence in the Arctic. This will probably have to include a fleet of modern icebreakers, submersibles, geophysics/seismic vessels, and polar aircraft.

There is too much at stake to leave it to the Russian bear.

Cohen on Russia’s Neo-Soviet Arctic Gambit and Why it Must be Stopped

Writing in the Washington Times the Heritage Foundation’s Ariel Cohen (pictured) lays bare the horror of Russian imperialism in the Arctic (hat tip: Robert Amsterdam).

By planting the Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole and claiming a sector of the Continental Shelf the size of Western Europe, Moscow generated a new source of international tension, seemingly out of the blue.

Geopolitics and geoeconomics are driving Moscow’s latest moves. The potential profits are certainly compelling. Geologists believe a quarter of the world’s oil and gas — billions of barrels and trillions of cubic feet — may be located on the Arctic Continental Shelf and possibly under the polar cap.

The Arctic, the final frontier, also harbors precious, ferrous and nonferrous metals, as well as diamonds. At today’s prices, these riches may be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And if the ice caps melt and shrink, not only will these resources will be more accessible than they are today, but a new sea route along the northern coast of Eurasia may be open to reach them.

The other side of the economic coin is political — the exploration and exploitation of polar petroleum and other resources may be a mega-project for the 21st century — the kind of opportunity that Russia is seeking to satisfy its ambition to become what President Vladimir Putin has termed “an energy superpower.”

In 2001 Russia filed a claim to expand the continental shelf with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf under the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), to which it is a party. However, in 2002 the commission declared it neither accepts nor rejects the Russian claim, and demanded more study. Russia plans to resubmit the claim, and expects to get the answer by 2010.

Russia’s claims are literally on thin ice. Moscow is extending its claim to the Arctic Ocean seabed based on its control of the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge, two underwater geological structures that jut into the ocean from the Russian continental shelf. However, it looks like the ridges do not extend far enough to justify Moscow’s claims beyond its 200-mile economic zone, while other countries also claim control of the same area.

This latest move by Moscow is also a chilling throwback to the 1930s Stalinist attempts to conquer the Arctic during the years when the U.S.S.R. was seized by fear and hatred. Stalin and his henchmen executed “enemies of the people” by the hundreds of thousands in mock trials and in the basements of the Lubyanka secret police headquarters, or in unnamed killing sites in the woods. Those not yet arrested were forced to applaud the “heroes of the Arctic”: pilots, sailors and explorers, in a macabre celebration of Stalinist tyranny.

To the regime’s critics, today’s expedition is a chilly reminder of the brutal era when millions of Gulag prisoners were sent to the frozen expanses to build senseless mega-projects for the power-crazy dictator.

Today’s Russian rhetoric is reminiscent of the past two centuries. The leader of the Arctic expedition, Artur Chilingarov, deputy chairman of the Russian Duma, proclaimed, “The Arctic is ours and we should manifest our presence.” Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Institute declared, “This is like placing a flag on the moon” — conveniently forgetting the United States never claimed the moon as its territory.

Andrei Kokoshin, chairman of a parliamentary committee on the ex-Soviet region, said Russia “will have to actively defend its interests in the Arctic” and called for reinforcing Russia’s Northern Fleet and border guard units and building airfields to “ensure full control.” Vladimir Putin spoke on a Russian nuclear powered ice-breaker earlier this year, urging greater efforts to secure Russia’s “strategic, economic, scientific and defense interests” in the Arctic.

A crisis over Russian claims in the Arctic would be perfectly avoidable, if Russia is prepared to behave in a more civilized manner. If Moscow suggested exploring the Arctic’s wealth in a cooperative fashion, in partnership with the United States and other countries aboard, this could become a productive project that furthered international cooperation. However, the current rush to dominate the Arctic Ocean and everything under it indicates that greed and aggression characterize the new Russian polar bear.

The State Department has expressed its skepticism regarding planting of the Russian flag, and said it has no legal standing or effect on Russia’s claim. Canada has voiced similar objections.

To stop the expansion, the U.S. should encourage its friends and allies — Canada, Denmark and Norway — to pursue their claims in the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. While the United Sates has not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), other Arctic countries, including Norway and Denmark, have filed their own claims with the Commission, opposing Russian demands.

The Nordic countries do not view Russia’s attempted seabed grab kindly. Nor should they. The U.S. should also encourage Canada to coordinate a possible claim through the International Justice Court in The Hague against the Russian grab.

Russia’s decision to take an aggressive stand has left the U.S., Canada and the Nordic countries little choice but to design a cooperative High North strategy, and invite other friendly countries, such as Great Britain, to expend the necessary means to build up the Western presence in the Arctic. This will probably have to include a fleet of modern icebreakers, submersibles, geophysics/seismic vessels, and polar aircraft.

There is too much at stake to leave it to the Russian bear.

Cohen on Russia’s Neo-Soviet Arctic Gambit and Why it Must be Stopped

Writing in the Washington Times the Heritage Foundation’s Ariel Cohen (pictured) lays bare the horror of Russian imperialism in the Arctic (hat tip: Robert Amsterdam).

By planting the Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole and claiming a sector of the Continental Shelf the size of Western Europe, Moscow generated a new source of international tension, seemingly out of the blue.

Geopolitics and geoeconomics are driving Moscow’s latest moves. The potential profits are certainly compelling. Geologists believe a quarter of the world’s oil and gas — billions of barrels and trillions of cubic feet — may be located on the Arctic Continental Shelf and possibly under the polar cap.

The Arctic, the final frontier, also harbors precious, ferrous and nonferrous metals, as well as diamonds. At today’s prices, these riches may be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And if the ice caps melt and shrink, not only will these resources will be more accessible than they are today, but a new sea route along the northern coast of Eurasia may be open to reach them.

The other side of the economic coin is political — the exploration and exploitation of polar petroleum and other resources may be a mega-project for the 21st century — the kind of opportunity that Russia is seeking to satisfy its ambition to become what President Vladimir Putin has termed “an energy superpower.”

In 2001 Russia filed a claim to expand the continental shelf with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf under the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), to which it is a party. However, in 2002 the commission declared it neither accepts nor rejects the Russian claim, and demanded more study. Russia plans to resubmit the claim, and expects to get the answer by 2010.

Russia’s claims are literally on thin ice. Moscow is extending its claim to the Arctic Ocean seabed based on its control of the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge, two underwater geological structures that jut into the ocean from the Russian continental shelf. However, it looks like the ridges do not extend far enough to justify Moscow’s claims beyond its 200-mile economic zone, while other countries also claim control of the same area.

This latest move by Moscow is also a chilling throwback to the 1930s Stalinist attempts to conquer the Arctic during the years when the U.S.S.R. was seized by fear and hatred. Stalin and his henchmen executed “enemies of the people” by the hundreds of thousands in mock trials and in the basements of the Lubyanka secret police headquarters, or in unnamed killing sites in the woods. Those not yet arrested were forced to applaud the “heroes of the Arctic”: pilots, sailors and explorers, in a macabre celebration of Stalinist tyranny.

To the regime’s critics, today’s expedition is a chilly reminder of the brutal era when millions of Gulag prisoners were sent to the frozen expanses to build senseless mega-projects for the power-crazy dictator.

Today’s Russian rhetoric is reminiscent of the past two centuries. The leader of the Arctic expedition, Artur Chilingarov, deputy chairman of the Russian Duma, proclaimed, “The Arctic is ours and we should manifest our presence.” Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Institute declared, “This is like placing a flag on the moon” — conveniently forgetting the United States never claimed the moon as its territory.

Andrei Kokoshin, chairman of a parliamentary committee on the ex-Soviet region, said Russia “will have to actively defend its interests in the Arctic” and called for reinforcing Russia’s Northern Fleet and border guard units and building airfields to “ensure full control.” Vladimir Putin spoke on a Russian nuclear powered ice-breaker earlier this year, urging greater efforts to secure Russia’s “strategic, economic, scientific and defense interests” in the Arctic.

A crisis over Russian claims in the Arctic would be perfectly avoidable, if Russia is prepared to behave in a more civilized manner. If Moscow suggested exploring the Arctic’s wealth in a cooperative fashion, in partnership with the United States and other countries aboard, this could become a productive project that furthered international cooperation. However, the current rush to dominate the Arctic Ocean and everything under it indicates that greed and aggression characterize the new Russian polar bear.

The State Department has expressed its skepticism regarding planting of the Russian flag, and said it has no legal standing or effect on Russia’s claim. Canada has voiced similar objections.

To stop the expansion, the U.S. should encourage its friends and allies — Canada, Denmark and Norway — to pursue their claims in the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. While the United Sates has not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), other Arctic countries, including Norway and Denmark, have filed their own claims with the Commission, opposing Russian demands.

The Nordic countries do not view Russia’s attempted seabed grab kindly. Nor should they. The U.S. should also encourage Canada to coordinate a possible claim through the International Justice Court in The Hague against the Russian grab.

Russia’s decision to take an aggressive stand has left the U.S., Canada and the Nordic countries little choice but to design a cooperative High North strategy, and invite other friendly countries, such as Great Britain, to expend the necessary means to build up the Western presence in the Arctic. This will probably have to include a fleet of modern icebreakers, submersibles, geophysics/seismic vessels, and polar aircraft.

There is too much at stake to leave it to the Russian bear.

Cohen on Russia’s Neo-Soviet Arctic Gambit and Why it Must be Stopped

Writing in the Washington Times the Heritage Foundation’s Ariel Cohen (pictured) lays bare the horror of Russian imperialism in the Arctic (hat tip: Robert Amsterdam).

By planting the Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole and claiming a sector of the Continental Shelf the size of Western Europe, Moscow generated a new source of international tension, seemingly out of the blue.

Geopolitics and geoeconomics are driving Moscow’s latest moves. The potential profits are certainly compelling. Geologists believe a quarter of the world’s oil and gas — billions of barrels and trillions of cubic feet — may be located on the Arctic Continental Shelf and possibly under the polar cap.

The Arctic, the final frontier, also harbors precious, ferrous and nonferrous metals, as well as diamonds. At today’s prices, these riches may be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And if the ice caps melt and shrink, not only will these resources will be more accessible than they are today, but a new sea route along the northern coast of Eurasia may be open to reach them.

The other side of the economic coin is political — the exploration and exploitation of polar petroleum and other resources may be a mega-project for the 21st century — the kind of opportunity that Russia is seeking to satisfy its ambition to become what President Vladimir Putin has termed “an energy superpower.”

In 2001 Russia filed a claim to expand the continental shelf with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf under the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), to which it is a party. However, in 2002 the commission declared it neither accepts nor rejects the Russian claim, and demanded more study. Russia plans to resubmit the claim, and expects to get the answer by 2010.

Russia’s claims are literally on thin ice. Moscow is extending its claim to the Arctic Ocean seabed based on its control of the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge, two underwater geological structures that jut into the ocean from the Russian continental shelf. However, it looks like the ridges do not extend far enough to justify Moscow’s claims beyond its 200-mile economic zone, while other countries also claim control of the same area.

This latest move by Moscow is also a chilling throwback to the 1930s Stalinist attempts to conquer the Arctic during the years when the U.S.S.R. was seized by fear and hatred. Stalin and his henchmen executed “enemies of the people” by the hundreds of thousands in mock trials and in the basements of the Lubyanka secret police headquarters, or in unnamed killing sites in the woods. Those not yet arrested were forced to applaud the “heroes of the Arctic”: pilots, sailors and explorers, in a macabre celebration of Stalinist tyranny.

To the regime’s critics, today’s expedition is a chilly reminder of the brutal era when millions of Gulag prisoners were sent to the frozen expanses to build senseless mega-projects for the power-crazy dictator.

Today’s Russian rhetoric is reminiscent of the past two centuries. The leader of the Arctic expedition, Artur Chilingarov, deputy chairman of the Russian Duma, proclaimed, “The Arctic is ours and we should manifest our presence.” Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Institute declared, “This is like placing a flag on the moon” — conveniently forgetting the United States never claimed the moon as its territory.

Andrei Kokoshin, chairman of a parliamentary committee on the ex-Soviet region, said Russia “will have to actively defend its interests in the Arctic” and called for reinforcing Russia’s Northern Fleet and border guard units and building airfields to “ensure full control.” Vladimir Putin spoke on a Russian nuclear powered ice-breaker earlier this year, urging greater efforts to secure Russia’s “strategic, economic, scientific and defense interests” in the Arctic.

A crisis over Russian claims in the Arctic would be perfectly avoidable, if Russia is prepared to behave in a more civilized manner. If Moscow suggested exploring the Arctic’s wealth in a cooperative fashion, in partnership with the United States and other countries aboard, this could become a productive project that furthered international cooperation. However, the current rush to dominate the Arctic Ocean and everything under it indicates that greed and aggression characterize the new Russian polar bear.

The State Department has expressed its skepticism regarding planting of the Russian flag, and said it has no legal standing or effect on Russia’s claim. Canada has voiced similar objections.

To stop the expansion, the U.S. should encourage its friends and allies — Canada, Denmark and Norway — to pursue their claims in the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. While the United Sates has not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), other Arctic countries, including Norway and Denmark, have filed their own claims with the Commission, opposing Russian demands.

The Nordic countries do not view Russia’s attempted seabed grab kindly. Nor should they. The U.S. should also encourage Canada to coordinate a possible claim through the International Justice Court in The Hague against the Russian grab.

Russia’s decision to take an aggressive stand has left the U.S., Canada and the Nordic countries little choice but to design a cooperative High North strategy, and invite other friendly countries, such as Great Britain, to expend the necessary means to build up the Western presence in the Arctic. This will probably have to include a fleet of modern icebreakers, submersibles, geophysics/seismic vessels, and polar aircraft.

There is too much at stake to leave it to the Russian bear.

Cohen on Russia’s Neo-Soviet Arctic Gambit and Why it Must be Stopped

Writing in the Washington Times the Heritage Foundation’s Ariel Cohen (pictured) lays bare the horror of Russian imperialism in the Arctic (hat tip: Robert Amsterdam).

By planting the Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole and claiming a sector of the Continental Shelf the size of Western Europe, Moscow generated a new source of international tension, seemingly out of the blue.

Geopolitics and geoeconomics are driving Moscow’s latest moves. The potential profits are certainly compelling. Geologists believe a quarter of the world’s oil and gas — billions of barrels and trillions of cubic feet — may be located on the Arctic Continental Shelf and possibly under the polar cap.

The Arctic, the final frontier, also harbors precious, ferrous and nonferrous metals, as well as diamonds. At today’s prices, these riches may be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And if the ice caps melt and shrink, not only will these resources will be more accessible than they are today, but a new sea route along the northern coast of Eurasia may be open to reach them.

The other side of the economic coin is political — the exploration and exploitation of polar petroleum and other resources may be a mega-project for the 21st century — the kind of opportunity that Russia is seeking to satisfy its ambition to become what President Vladimir Putin has termed “an energy superpower.”

In 2001 Russia filed a claim to expand the continental shelf with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf under the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), to which it is a party. However, in 2002 the commission declared it neither accepts nor rejects the Russian claim, and demanded more study. Russia plans to resubmit the claim, and expects to get the answer by 2010.

Russia’s claims are literally on thin ice. Moscow is extending its claim to the Arctic Ocean seabed based on its control of the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge, two underwater geological structures that jut into the ocean from the Russian continental shelf. However, it looks like the ridges do not extend far enough to justify Moscow’s claims beyond its 200-mile economic zone, while other countries also claim control of the same area.

This latest move by Moscow is also a chilling throwback to the 1930s Stalinist attempts to conquer the Arctic during the years when the U.S.S.R. was seized by fear and hatred. Stalin and his henchmen executed “enemies of the people” by the hundreds of thousands in mock trials and in the basements of the Lubyanka secret police headquarters, or in unnamed killing sites in the woods. Those not yet arrested were forced to applaud the “heroes of the Arctic”: pilots, sailors and explorers, in a macabre celebration of Stalinist tyranny.

To the regime’s critics, today’s expedition is a chilly reminder of the brutal era when millions of Gulag prisoners were sent to the frozen expanses to build senseless mega-projects for the power-crazy dictator.

Today’s Russian rhetoric is reminiscent of the past two centuries. The leader of the Arctic expedition, Artur Chilingarov, deputy chairman of the Russian Duma, proclaimed, “The Arctic is ours and we should manifest our presence.” Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Institute declared, “This is like placing a flag on the moon” — conveniently forgetting the United States never claimed the moon as its territory.

Andrei Kokoshin, chairman of a parliamentary committee on the ex-Soviet region, said Russia “will have to actively defend its interests in the Arctic” and called for reinforcing Russia’s Northern Fleet and border guard units and building airfields to “ensure full control.” Vladimir Putin spoke on a Russian nuclear powered ice-breaker earlier this year, urging greater efforts to secure Russia’s “strategic, economic, scientific and defense interests” in the Arctic.

A crisis over Russian claims in the Arctic would be perfectly avoidable, if Russia is prepared to behave in a more civilized manner. If Moscow suggested exploring the Arctic’s wealth in a cooperative fashion, in partnership with the United States and other countries aboard, this could become a productive project that furthered international cooperation. However, the current rush to dominate the Arctic Ocean and everything under it indicates that greed and aggression characterize the new Russian polar bear.

The State Department has expressed its skepticism regarding planting of the Russian flag, and said it has no legal standing or effect on Russia’s claim. Canada has voiced similar objections.

To stop the expansion, the U.S. should encourage its friends and allies — Canada, Denmark and Norway — to pursue their claims in the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. While the United Sates has not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), other Arctic countries, including Norway and Denmark, have filed their own claims with the Commission, opposing Russian demands.

The Nordic countries do not view Russia’s attempted seabed grab kindly. Nor should they. The U.S. should also encourage Canada to coordinate a possible claim through the International Justice Court in The Hague against the Russian grab.

Russia’s decision to take an aggressive stand has left the U.S., Canada and the Nordic countries little choice but to design a cooperative High North strategy, and invite other friendly countries, such as Great Britain, to expend the necessary means to build up the Western presence in the Arctic. This will probably have to include a fleet of modern icebreakers, submersibles, geophysics/seismic vessels, and polar aircraft.

There is too much at stake to leave it to the Russian bear.

Top 10 Reasons Russia Wants the Arctic

Writing in the Moscow Times Harley Balzer, a professor in the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, offers readers top-ten list of reasons why a Russian dictator would want to make a grab for the North Pole:

10) If you don’t have the technology to exploit the Shtokman gas deposits, claiming another large, ice-bound hydrocarbon source will help you learn how to do it.

9) It gets people’s attention. There was a danger that U.S. President George W. Bush might want to forget all about Russia after President Vladimir Putin caught the last fish in the Kennebunkport waters.

8) Putin will need a new job in March. If the crew of the Russian icebreaker remains at the North Pole until then, he could win the local election in a landslide.

7) If the Russians don’t claim the North Pole, Hugo Chavez might beat them to it.

6) Gazprom is preparing for its initial public offering, and going to the pole is a way to increase their oil and gas reserves without the hassle of mapping the rest of Siberia.

5) Russian scientists have finally accepted the reality of global warming. Once all the permafrost melts, the Arctic will be the only solid ground east of Yekaterinburg.

4) It’s a sucker play. They don’t really want the North Pole, but they will scare the European Union into trading a swath of the Mediterranean coastline in exchange for Russia abandoning its claim.

3) Proving that the Lomonosov Ridge extends to the North Pole might give Russia the right to claim the pole. This has opened up enormous possibilities in the international arena. Turkish geologists have found that rock samples support their ownership of the Black Sea coast all the way to the Danube. Japan has established geological rights to the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin. And U.S. geologists have discovered that the Bering Sea land bridge is an extension of Alaska, supporting a U.S. claim to everything east of the Urals.

2) Due to the government’s successful demographic policies, the Far East and Siberia have become dangerously overpopulated. They need more territory.

1) A political party with medved (Russian for “bear”) as its mascot could be in trouble in the December State Duma elections unless it finds some more bears.

Annals of Russian Imperialism: The Battle for the Arctic

“I’m not sure of whether they’ve put a metal flag, a rubber flag or a bed sheet on the ocean floor. Either way, it doesn’t have any legal standing or effect on this claim.”

U.S. State Department

“Look, this isn’t the 15th century. You can’t go around the world and plant flags and say, ‘We’re claiming this territory.”

Canadian Foreign Ministry

Russia’s government-issued daily newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta stated on Friday that Russia’s mission to the sea floor below the polar ice cap “is the start of a new redistribution of the world.” Western governments responded by heaping appropriate scorn on Russia’s outrageous and untenable act of imperialism.

It seems that Russia, just like the USSR before it, is quite content to alienate the entire world and try to go it alone. Russia stands without a single nation of consequence as an ally, and after directly provoking Great Britain and the EU with its outrageous conduct in the Litvinenko matter is now going after Canada and the United States.

And so, Russia will go the way of the USSR.

Annals of Russian Imperialism: They’re going after the Arctic!

The Guardian reports:

It is already the world’s biggest country, spanning 11 time zones and stretching from Europe to the far east. But yesterday Russia signalled its intention to get even bigger by announcing an audacious plan to annex a vast 460,000 square mile chunk of the frozen and ice-encrusted Arctic.

According to Russian scientists, there is new evidence backing Russia’s claim that its northern Arctic region is directly linked to the North Pole via an underwater shelf.

Under international law, no country owns the North Pole. Instead, the five surrounding Arctic states, Russia, the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland), are limited to a 200-mile economic zone around their coasts.

On Monday, however, a group of Russian geologists returned from a six-week voyage on a nuclear icebreaker. They had travelled to the Lomonosov ridge, an underwater shelf in Russia’s remote and inhospitable eastern Arctic Ocean.

According to Russia’s media, the geologists returned with the “sensational news” that the Lomonosov ridge was linked to Russian Federation territory, boosting Russia’s claim over the oil-and-gas rich triangle. The territory contained 10bn tonnes of gas and oil deposits, the scientists said.

Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper celebrated the discovery by printing a large map of the North Pole. It showed the new “addition” to Russia – the size of France, Germany and Italy combined – under a white, blue and red Russian flag.

[…]

“Frankly I think it’s a little bit strange,” Sergey Priamikov, the international co-operation director of Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St Petersburg, told the Guardian. “Canada could make exactly the same claim. The Canadians could say that the Lomonosov ridge is part of the Canadian shelf, which means Russia should in fact belong to Canada, together with the whole of Eurasia.”

Annals of Russian Imperialism: They’re going after the Arctic!

The Guardian reports:

It is already the world’s biggest country, spanning 11 time zones and stretching from Europe to the far east. But yesterday Russia signalled its intention to get even bigger by announcing an audacious plan to annex a vast 460,000 square mile chunk of the frozen and ice-encrusted Arctic.

According to Russian scientists, there is new evidence backing Russia’s claim that its northern Arctic region is directly linked to the North Pole via an underwater shelf.

Under international law, no country owns the North Pole. Instead, the five surrounding Arctic states, Russia, the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland), are limited to a 200-mile economic zone around their coasts.

On Monday, however, a group of Russian geologists returned from a six-week voyage on a nuclear icebreaker. They had travelled to the Lomonosov ridge, an underwater shelf in Russia’s remote and inhospitable eastern Arctic Ocean.

According to Russia’s media, the geologists returned with the “sensational news” that the Lomonosov ridge was linked to Russian Federation territory, boosting Russia’s claim over the oil-and-gas rich triangle. The territory contained 10bn tonnes of gas and oil deposits, the scientists said.

Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper celebrated the discovery by printing a large map of the North Pole. It showed the new “addition” to Russia – the size of France, Germany and Italy combined – under a white, blue and red Russian flag.

[…]

“Frankly I think it’s a little bit strange,” Sergey Priamikov, the international co-operation director of Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St Petersburg, told the Guardian. “Canada could make exactly the same claim. The Canadians could say that the Lomonosov ridge is part of the Canadian shelf, which means Russia should in fact belong to Canada, together with the whole of Eurasia.”

Annals of Russian Imperialism: They’re going after the Arctic!

The Guardian reports:

It is already the world’s biggest country, spanning 11 time zones and stretching from Europe to the far east. But yesterday Russia signalled its intention to get even bigger by announcing an audacious plan to annex a vast 460,000 square mile chunk of the frozen and ice-encrusted Arctic.

According to Russian scientists, there is new evidence backing Russia’s claim that its northern Arctic region is directly linked to the North Pole via an underwater shelf.

Under international law, no country owns the North Pole. Instead, the five surrounding Arctic states, Russia, the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland), are limited to a 200-mile economic zone around their coasts.

On Monday, however, a group of Russian geologists returned from a six-week voyage on a nuclear icebreaker. They had travelled to the Lomonosov ridge, an underwater shelf in Russia’s remote and inhospitable eastern Arctic Ocean.

According to Russia’s media, the geologists returned with the “sensational news” that the Lomonosov ridge was linked to Russian Federation territory, boosting Russia’s claim over the oil-and-gas rich triangle. The territory contained 10bn tonnes of gas and oil deposits, the scientists said.

Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper celebrated the discovery by printing a large map of the North Pole. It showed the new “addition” to Russia – the size of France, Germany and Italy combined – under a white, blue and red Russian flag.

[…]

“Frankly I think it’s a little bit strange,” Sergey Priamikov, the international co-operation director of Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St Petersburg, told the Guardian. “Canada could make exactly the same claim. The Canadians could say that the Lomonosov ridge is part of the Canadian shelf, which means Russia should in fact belong to Canada, together with the whole of Eurasia.”

Annals of Russian Imperialism: They’re going after the Arctic!

The Guardian reports:

It is already the world’s biggest country, spanning 11 time zones and stretching from Europe to the far east. But yesterday Russia signalled its intention to get even bigger by announcing an audacious plan to annex a vast 460,000 square mile chunk of the frozen and ice-encrusted Arctic.

According to Russian scientists, there is new evidence backing Russia’s claim that its northern Arctic region is directly linked to the North Pole via an underwater shelf.

Under international law, no country owns the North Pole. Instead, the five surrounding Arctic states, Russia, the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland), are limited to a 200-mile economic zone around their coasts.

On Monday, however, a group of Russian geologists returned from a six-week voyage on a nuclear icebreaker. They had travelled to the Lomonosov ridge, an underwater shelf in Russia’s remote and inhospitable eastern Arctic Ocean.

According to Russia’s media, the geologists returned with the “sensational news” that the Lomonosov ridge was linked to Russian Federation territory, boosting Russia’s claim over the oil-and-gas rich triangle. The territory contained 10bn tonnes of gas and oil deposits, the scientists said.

Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper celebrated the discovery by printing a large map of the North Pole. It showed the new “addition” to Russia – the size of France, Germany and Italy combined – under a white, blue and red Russian flag.

[…]

“Frankly I think it’s a little bit strange,” Sergey Priamikov, the international co-operation director of Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St Petersburg, told the Guardian. “Canada could make exactly the same claim. The Canadians could say that the Lomonosov ridge is part of the Canadian shelf, which means Russia should in fact belong to Canada, together with the whole of Eurasia.”

Annals of Russian Imperialism: They’re going after the Arctic!

The Guardian reports:

It is already the world’s biggest country, spanning 11 time zones and stretching from Europe to the far east. But yesterday Russia signalled its intention to get even bigger by announcing an audacious plan to annex a vast 460,000 square mile chunk of the frozen and ice-encrusted Arctic.

According to Russian scientists, there is new evidence backing Russia’s claim that its northern Arctic region is directly linked to the North Pole via an underwater shelf.

Under international law, no country owns the North Pole. Instead, the five surrounding Arctic states, Russia, the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland), are limited to a 200-mile economic zone around their coasts.

On Monday, however, a group of Russian geologists returned from a six-week voyage on a nuclear icebreaker. They had travelled to the Lomonosov ridge, an underwater shelf in Russia’s remote and inhospitable eastern Arctic Ocean.

According to Russia’s media, the geologists returned with the “sensational news” that the Lomonosov ridge was linked to Russian Federation territory, boosting Russia’s claim over the oil-and-gas rich triangle. The territory contained 10bn tonnes of gas and oil deposits, the scientists said.

Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper celebrated the discovery by printing a large map of the North Pole. It showed the new “addition” to Russia – the size of France, Germany and Italy combined – under a white, blue and red Russian flag.

[…]

“Frankly I think it’s a little bit strange,” Sergey Priamikov, the international co-operation director of Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St Petersburg, told the Guardian. “Canada could make exactly the same claim. The Canadians could say that the Lomonosov ridge is part of the Canadian shelf, which means Russia should in fact belong to Canada, together with the whole of Eurasia.”