Pivot to Arctic: What’s Behind US-NATO Military Buildup in High North?

The US is stepping up its military presence in the Arctic region together with its NATO allies, while at the same time calling on other nations to restrain from Arctic militarisation. What’s behind Washington’s self-contradictory stance and the latest push in the ice-cold region?

The Biden administration is bringing the Arctic into focus as glaciers are melting, expanding the region’s shipping lanes and increasing access to natural resources, Foreign Policy Magazine noted on 20 May, citing Antony Blinken’s official visit to Greenland and Iceland as well as NATO’s growing presence in the “high north”.

The magazine outlines three elements of a new emerging pattern:

·         First, on 16 April, Washington struck the Supplementary Defence Cooperation Agreement with Norway, which will allow the US to build infrastructure at three air bases and a navy facility along the Norwegian coast.

·         Second, American Virginia-class submarine the USS New Mexico (SSN-779) arrived in Tromso, Norway on 10 May.

·         Third, the Pentagon and its NATO allies are stepping up joint naval and air drills in the region: on 18 May, 10 countries kicked off Exercise Formidable Shield in the North Atlantic.   

Washington’s vested interests in the Arctic region are obvious given that the latter accounts for 22 percent of the world’s hydrocarbon resources, according to the United States Geological Survey. By 2040, the Arctic could have almost no summer sea ice,…

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