The US military activities in the Arctic and the South China Sea are fraught with tremendous risk of inflaming conflicts with Russia and China, says American peace activist Jan R. Weinberg. What’s worse, the militarisation of crucial shipping lanes could backfire on international trade and economies, he argues.
During an 18 May press conference with his Icelandic counterpart Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that Russia advances “unlawful maritime claims, particularly its regulation of foreign vessels transiting the Northern Sea Route.”
“The regulatory scheme that Russia has put forward does not give due regard as required by international law to navigation rights, freedoms of the territorial seas and exclusive economic zone,” Blinken said, stressing that Washington “ha[s] and will respond” to this.
Responding to Blinken’s criticism, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasised that “it has been absolutely clear for everyone for a long time that this is our territory, this is our land,” referring to Russia’s Arctic coast, related internal waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
New Dimension to Old Maritime Dispute
The US-Russia dispute over the Northern Sea Route (NSR) – also referred to as the Northeast Passage – has been flaring for quite a while and goes as far back as the 1960s. According to Moscow, NSR is a national transport route and subject to national legislation on historical grounds. Most of the NSR goes through…