Arctic might be Russia and EU’s next flashpoint

Arctic could be Russia and EU's next flashpoint

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A brand-new cold front might open in the political stress in between the European Union and Russia over energy. This time in the Arctic.

On Wednesday, the EU advanced propositions that might see it pressing to prohibit the tapping of brand-new oil, coal and gas deposits in the Arctic in an effort, it stated, to safeguard the area from more disruptive environment modification.

Russia, a significant holder of Arctic area where an abundance of its hydrocarbon and fish stocks are discovered, is not too happy with the propositions with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak informing CNBC Thursday that they were politically-motivated and ridiculous.

” I was a bit surprised when I heard about this yesterday. Why the Arctic, why not the Equator? One could come up with a number of places in the world where oil and gas production must be banned,” he informed CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the Russian Energy Week conference in Moscow, according to a translation.

“This proposal has no other motivation than political,” he included. “What do these statements tell us – that we need to stop extracting the entire gas produced at the moment? I think that the authors of these proposals have very little understanding of the real state of affairs,” he stated.

The EU propositions come at a time when stress are currently high in between Russia and the EU when it concerns energy, and particularly gas. Prices have actually been skyrocketing as Europe’s need is squeezed by tighter-than-expected materials.

Russia has stated it has actually increase gas materials however critics state it is utilizing its gas exports to the area for political functions, primarily its quote to get Germany to license the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Russia rejected it was making use of Europe’s gas crisis, with President Vladimir Putin firmly insisting to CNBC on Wednesday that Moscow was not utilizing gas a weapon.

Arctic engagement

The EU seems aiming to increase its function in the area, nevertheless, and in a proposition mooted by the European Commission on Wednesday, it kept in mind that “the Arctic region is of major strategic importance for the European Union, with regard to climate change, raw materials as well as geostrategic influence.”

It stated it would intend to “strengthen EU engagement” in the area through “contributing to maintaining peaceful and constructive dialogue and cooperation in a changing geopolitical landscape, to keep the Arctic safe and stable” along with “pushing for oil, coal and gas to stay in the ground, including in Arctic regions” and “supporting the inclusive and sustainable development of the Arctic regions to the benefit of its inhabitants and future generations.”

The Arctic is an essential part of Russia’s economy and area, its shoreline represent 53% of Arctic Ocean shoreline and the nation’s population in the area amounts to approximately 2 million individuals– that’s around half of individuals residing in the Arctic worldwide, according to the Arctic Institute, a center for circumpolar security research studies.

Female polar bear with her 2 cubs on wandering iceberg in Barents Sea, Russia.

© Vadim Balakin|Moment|Getty Images

Alexei Chekunkov, Russia’s minister for advancement of the Russian Far East and Arctic, stated in June that “the Arctic is the engine of economic growth. It accounts for 10% of our GDP and 20% of our exports” and Russia knows sustainability in the area; the style for Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council, a position it will hold up until 2023, is “Responsible Governance for a Sustainable Arctic.”

Sustainability is a huge concern for the area, which is being starkly impacted by environment modification: The Arctic is warming about two times as quick as the international average, according to the Norwegian Polar Institute, which has actually cautioned that “significant regional warming leads to continued loss of sea ice, melting of glaciers and of the Greenland ice cap” with extreme effects for people and nature in the area, and the world.

Novak questioned whether the EU propositions suggested that individuals living and operating in the area would need to move.

“There are many people living in the Arctic zone of Russia, there are many settlements and communities that inhabit these regions, we generate power to support their activities. What should we deduce from such statements – that we need to put an end to all human activities, to habitation in these regions altogether?” he stated Thursday.

He kept in mind that the propositions did not just impact Russia, with the U.S., Canada, and Iceland and Norway (which are both in the European Economic Area however not the EU) likewise having area in the Arctic, and who are members of the Arctic Council.

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