Russia has committed substantial material, political and military resources in an effort to turn its Arctic territories into a major driver of economic growth, both through the exploitation of the region’s vast untapped natural resources, and the creation of a new Northern Sea Route for trade between Europe and Asia.
Climate change opens tremendous new opportunities for Russia to strengthen its position in the international arena, Haaretz writes.
Russia, the newspaper notes, benefits from its favourable geographical position near the Arctic Circle, where geologists have estimated up to 30 percent of the world’s natural gas and 13 percent of its oil reserves are situated, trapped under the Polar ice. As the Arctic permafrost melts, these resources will become more accessible, particularly to Russia, which has staked out a large portion of the Arctic by showing that the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of its maritime borders.
Furthermore, Haaretz suggests, changing temperatures are making the waters along the coast of the Russian Arctic territories less hazardous than before, and making the idea of new trade routes through the Arctic Ocean more promising, with countries with ports in the North and Baltic Seas standing to benefit – Russia in particular.
According to one “extreme scenario” found in a 2014 UN report cited by the newspaper, in a situation where Arctic maritime routes are capable of operating…