The Russian navy has resumed its patrols of the Arctic sea around the Svalbard archipelago, an area claimed by both Russia and Norway. There has been no activity by Russia’s military in this region since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But now the Russian navy has stated it plans to increase military activity in the waters.
The Russian Northern Fleet’s Severomorsk submarine destroyer has been moved into the waters around Spitzbergen Island, with a Marshal Ustinov missile cruiser to follow shortly after.
The Russian government insists the moves are mainly to protect Russian fishermen who have been blocked access from the waters around Spitzbergen. Norway claims exclusive rights to the waters, but Russia has refused to recognise a 200-mile economic zone established by a UN treaty in 1982.
Analysts suggest that Russia’s greater purpose is to get its foot into the door of the potentially lucrative resource exploitation of the Arctic region’s seabed. Russia is racing with Canada, Norway, Denmark and the US to secure rights to these valuable resources which include natural gas and precious metals.
Russia recently planted its flag on the seabed at the North Pole, making claims that the region is connected to Russia’s continental shelf. As Arctic ice continues to melt due to global warming, the race to secure its resources is certain to heat up.