Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the recent massive riots in the United States caused by the death of an Afro-American man, George Floyd, at the hands of the police, Washington does not forget about its expansionist aspirations in the Arctic. This can be testified to by a recent statement of first Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Michael Murphy. According to him, Russia, allegedly increasing its military presence in the Arctic, jeopardizes the NATO anti-submarine defense line in the North Atlantic, the so-called GIUK gap running between the UK, Iceland and Greenland.
The State Department spokesman drew attention to Russia's creation of a Northern fleet-based joint strategic command and infrastructure construction in the Arctic region. At the same time, Murphy did not say a word about NATO countries' having recently become a lot more active in the Arctic, with Russia's actions being retaliatory at best.
By the way, back in January this year, Russian Foreign Ministry's Ambassador at Large and senior Arctic official of the Russian Federation Nikolai Korchunov said that activities of the North Atlantic Alliance in the Arctic, especially countries that do not belong to the region, leads to a tense and disrupted situation. And in late December last year, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Northern Fleet Alexander Moiseyev said NATO was actively increasing its reconnaissance and training activity in the Arctic.
Let us recall that on March 5, 2020, President Vladimir Putin approved Basic Principles of Russian Federation State Policy in the Arctic to 2035. The country's key national interests in the region embrace ensuring sovereignty and territorial integrity, preserving the Arctic as a territory of peace, as well as stable and mutually beneficial partnership. So all the steps taken by our country in this region are strictly regulated by its laws, national security interests and do not run counter to international law.
Meanwhile, impertinent and insolent actions of the United States in the Arctic cannot but cause surprise, if not to say condemnation. Have at least Washington's desire to buy Greenland and thereby deprive Denmark of its status of an Arctic power. The US is already undertaking specific steps to this effect. Thus, late April saw the State Department announce the upcoming opening of an American consulate and an office with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Greenland, as well as the intention to invest $12.1 million in its development. This money will go towards "reviving cooperation with Greenland", i.e. energy, tourism, educational, and environmental projects.
Yes, we are not talking about direct purchase of Greenland from Denmark yet. However, back in August last year, the Trump administration considered acquiring this semi-autonomous Danish territory to strengthen US positions in the Arctic. Back then, this idea by the White House caused a storm of indignation in Denmark and Greenland itself. However, the Americans have unlikely abandoned these plans and will apparently keep translating them into practice. Moreover, many American politicians consider Greenland the second Alaska for the United States. And Washington is not confused by the Danes' official refusal to sell the island – the US seems ready to live the "by hook or by crook" paradigm. And the allocation of more than $12 million for the development of Greenland is the first step along this track.
The problem, however, is that the United States is virtually crossing a certain red line by introducing USAID to Greenland, given its being considered one of the main "front organizations" for activities by American intelligence services, particularly the CIA. The Agency has been repeatedly involved in high-profile scandals, and a number of countries, including Russia, have long since shown it the door. What's interesting, Washington is trying to do this in the backyard of its NATO partner, Denmark, which clearly cannot but worry Copenhagen.
If you wonder why the US is so determined to gain a foothold in Greenland, the answer is not hard to plumb. First, the location of the island is of strategic importance, providing for control of the entire Arctic region from its territory. Secondly, the scarcely developed resources of the Arctic are truly enormous, including oil, gas, fish, and rare-earth metals. It is no accident that the Danish newspaper Berlingske previously pointed to Washington's desire to lay hold on a new Klondike in Greenland.
According to the Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung, America has stirred up a hornet's nest in the Arctic with its activity. The outlet points out that Washington's performance regarding Greenland is not accidentally "considered provocative not only in Moscow and Beijing, but also in Copenhagen."
It should be noted that the US is not alone in its desire to gain a foothold in the Arctic. Canada, for instance, has recently become more active there, especially in military terms. Ottawa believes that the country's growing military presence in the Arctic should demonstrate other Arctic powers its ability to control the region. Strengthening Canada's geopolitical position in the Arctic seems o have become one of the country's most challenging tasks under the government of Justin Trudeau. At the same time, experts believe Ottawa is not afraid of a military threat coming from the Arctic zone, but demonstrates a mere willingness to protect its economic interests in the region.
Other countries, like the United Kingdom and Norway, are also ready to defend their interests in the Arctic. Due to this precise reason, NATO military drills involving these countries have recently become more frequent in the area. NATO headquarters in Brussels should remember that any exercises are inevitably accompanied by additional tension. It is no accident that the authoritative British outlet The Economist warns in this regard: "America and Britain play cold-war games in the Arctic." And bargaining with the devil, be it noted, is always a dangerous thing to entail unexpected consequences...