19 Oct 2021
Posted in Aerospace, Defense & Security
EU claim to Arctic adds to already contested environment, says GlobalData
Following recent news that the EU has taken a stronger stance on the Arctic and is demanding recognition as a player in the region;
William Davies, Associate Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:
“In recent years there has been increasing attention paid to the Arctic, with melting sea ice providing greater access to resources and trade routes. The primary players in the region are the US and Russia, with China also staking a claim – despite not bordering the area. The EU’s claim adds a greater degree of complexity and will likely increase regional military buildup.
“The US and Russia have both stepped up icebreaker production in recent years to ensure ongoing access to the *Arctic, with the US procuring three new heavy icebreakers and three new medium vessels. However, this will still leave them behind Russia who operates up to 50 and are currently developing additional nuclear-powered icebreakers.
“Russia has increased military action in the region, with Russian submarines breaking through the ice near the North Pole earlier this year and MiG-31 aircrafts operating in the region as part of the Umka-2021 exercise.
“The EU has been attempting to gain observer status in the Arctic council (which includes Russia and the US among others) since 2008, and the buildup of Arctic military capabilities has likely heightened this desire for codified influence. The EU’s interest in the Arctic stems in large part from its interest in addressing climate change, and ensuring ongoing peace and sustainability in the region, as well as access to raw materials.
“The EU’s Arctic Policy document, released last week, highlights the Arctic region as an area of key strategic importance, particularly for geostrategic influence. The strategy also includes a commitment to a permanent presence in Greenland and extending civil protection capacities in the area.”
* Data taken from GlobalData’s report: Arctic and High North (Militarization) – Thematic Research