Thursday, October 20, 2016

Military Confrontation Over Arctic...Unlikely says SIPRI Report

By: Daniel Maillet, CAF Dispatch Author
October 20, 2016

In it's most recent publication the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an independent resource on global security, has examined the military capabilities of five of the most prominent arctic nations and posed the question, A New Cold War in the High North?

In its executive summary, the publication says, "Climate change is making the Arctic region—and its expected natural resources—more accessible. Overlapping claims by the fi ve Arctic littoral states—Canada, Denmark, Norway, the United States (all of which are members of NATO) and Russia—have raised concerns about future conflict in the region and have stimulated new thinking about the security situation in the Arctic. All fi ve states started to strengthen their military presence and capabilities in the Arctic even before the rise in tensions between Russia and NATO members observed since 2014. This increase in tensions has fuelled fears of the onset of a new ‘cold war’ and possible conflict in Europe. It has also resulted in a further build-up of military capabilities in the Arctic region."

"However, the actions taken by the five Arctic littoral states in the region and the offi cial documents released by those states in the past few years seem to suggest that the focus remains solely on the defence of current national territories. While this relatively restrained approach to overlapping maritime claims is to be welcomed, the increases in military forces provide cause for concern, and military confi dence measures and expanded cooperation should be high on the agenda for all five states."

The SIPRI report clearly states that while there are numerous who believe that the Arctic is headed towards conflict, most notably over natural resources; the actuality of military confrontation between any of the five states is unlikely.

The report clearly indicates that Canada is not alone in it's exhaustively slow military rebuild of its Arctic capabilities. The United States, Denmark, Norway, Canada, and Russia while all are heavily investing in a resurgence of military capabilities in the Arctic, all are doing so very slowly (much slower than planned) and are mainly doing so to protect their own borders, sovereignty, and secure a region that is becoming more and more accessible to non-Arctic nations. Therefore, an actual military confrontation over the Arctic in the near future is unlikely. Especially as the five Arctic nations (despite the state of Russian-West Relations) are still working diplomatically together on Arctic issues.

You can read the full report below: