Arctic – the new “Great Game” or peaceful cooperation
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Baltic Defence College, Tartu, Estonia
Baltic Defence College, Tartu Estonia
Publication date: 2014-09-30
Security and Defence Quarterly 2014;4(3):87-119
The Arctic area with its harsh climate and austere icecap has not raised any great international passions in the past. However, enduring global warming has opened new views on exploitation of that area. If the climate gets steadily warmer in the future, it could mean the opening of the Northwest Passage for ship routes. On the other hand, it is estimated that the region has got remarkable gas reserves, which could amount to as much as 30 % of the world’s undiscovered reserves, as well as oil, which encompasses some 13 % of world’s undiscovered stocks. As for now, any serious international conflicts in this area are not likely, even though there are real expectations and claims imposed by several nations. The current peaceful cooperation is supported by feasible treaties that are already in place. Until lately, the work of the Arctic Council has not raised any great international attentiveness, but the expected development in the area has activated stronger interest from many countries, and not only those from the Arctic region. There are several regional disputes among the five states, USA, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark about the Arctic Ocean. As expert opinion still differs quite significantly about the resources available in the Arctic region and about the feasibility of the Northwest and Northeast routes, it is hard to say if there are any practical economic gains to be achieved. Although cooperation between the nations has been peaceful, the military presence in the area is increasing. Moreover, it remains to be seen how the recent Ukrainian crisis will affect the development in the area.
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