Russia Prepares for War at the North Pole

Russian Flag

This headline appeared last week in several German newspapers.

In 2007, the Russian expedition “Arktika”, made the first descent to the ocean bottom below the North Pole, and planted a titanium flag of Russia in the seabed.

In the past submarines traveled below the Arctic ice cap, but in 2007 man reached the seabed below the North Pole for the first time. The Mir-1 and a second Mir-2 submarine faced the challenge of diving 13,980 feet (4,261 meters) deep, and then having to resurface at the exact location where they’ve submerged, because they were not strong enough to penetrate the ice themselves. The nuclear ice-breaker vessel “Rossiya” kept the ice open for the research ship and the submarines.

The expedition ship “Akademik Fyodorov” carried over 100 scientists to the North Pole. “Apart from the purely scientific goal of a comprehensive study of the climate and seabed at the North Pole, this expedition may help Russia to enlarge its territory by more than one million square kilometers,” said Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. The mini-submarine Mir-1 successfully reached the Arctic seabed. “Our mission is to remind the whole world that Russia is a great polar and research power,” said expedition leader and deputy speaker of the Russian parliament Artur Chilingarov, Russia’s presidential envoy to the Arctic under President Vladimir Putin.

Russia claims that the sea-bottom at the North pole is connected to the Russian mainland, saying that a continental shelf called the “Lomonosov Ridge runs from Siberia on the Arctic seabed to the North Pole. As such, it would be an extension of Russian territory. This can be true, knowing that before the ice age all land was connected as super-continent (Pangea).

The United States and Canada scoffed at the Russian submarine expedition that planted a Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole. Coming home to a hero’s welcome, the famous polar scientist led the risky voyage did not mince words in responding:

“I don’t give a damn what all these foreign politicians there are saying about this,” Artur Chilingarov told a throng of well-wishers. “If someone doesn’t like this, let them go down themselves … and then try to put something there. Russia must win. Russia has what it takes to win. The Arctic has always been Russian.”

“This isn’t the 15th century. You can’t go around and just plant flags and say; ‘We’re claiming this territory’”, said Peter MacKay, Foreign Minister of Canada.

The claimed territory could contain undiscovered natural resources such as oil and gas. Russia’s military has begun to arm themselves for possible war plans in the Arctic. This has been aided by the fact that arctic warming has become so dramatic, scientists report that the last ice on the North Pole may melt this summer.

Russia’s bold and sometimes confrontational positions have brought it increasingly at odds with the West. – Is Russia preparing for an ice-cold war at the North Pole?

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