The Arctic: A geopolitical ocean appearing in real-time

Abstract

The Arctic’s 21 million square kilometre landmasses has been the Earth’s most unknown and underdeveloped region. The ice caps and low temperatures have maintained impregnable the most northern point of the planet even for the great powers. However, as ice melts as a result of climate change, it reveals a wealth of natural resources and new routes for navigation that are becoming more and more accessible and, hence, attractive. Moreover, it provides a military strategic position which brings the two old enemies of the Cold War, Russia and the United States, very close. In addition, the Asian rising hegemon claims its own right to this region of the world as part of its strategy to challenge USA´s leadership all over the globe. The starting gun for an arm race has already been shot in the Arctic. Therefore, it is a question of waiting to see to what extent the key actors are willing to clash in the north or to amicably fall back to a realm of political diplomacy in which they can take the advantages of this new ocean that is steadily emerging.

Keywords: Arctic Ocean, the Arctic Council, the United States, Russia Federation, China, climate change, natural resources, shipping lines, the Polar Silk Road, security dilemma, security competition, power, strategy, NATO, Nordic countries, economy, Cold War and UNCLOS.

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