Arctic military bases signal new Cold War
Canada fired a warning shot in a new Cold War over the vast resources of the far North by announcing last night that it will build two new military bases in the Arctic wilderness. A week after Russia laid claim to the North Pole in what is rapidly becoming a global scramble for the region’s vast oil and gas reserves, Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, said that Canada would open a new army training centre for cold-weather fighting at Resolute Bay, and a deep-water port at Nanisivik, on the northern tip of Baffin Island. The country is also beefing up its military presence in the far North with 900 Rangers. “Canada’s Government understands that the first principle of Arctic sovereignty is use it or lose it,” Mr Harper said. The move comes a week after Russia planted a rustproof titanium flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole in a blatant attempt to stake a claim to the billions of tonnes of untapped energy resources believed to be under the Arctic Ocean. Under international law, each of five Arctic countries – Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark – controls an economic zone within 200 miles of its continental shelf. But the limits of that shelf are in dispute, and as Russia seeks to expand its gas and oil reserves, the region is at the centre of a battle for energy rights and ownership. Last week’s Russian expedition, when two mini-submarines reached the seabed 13,980ft (4,261m) beneath the North Pole, was part of a push by Moscow to find evidence for its claim that the Arctic seabed and Siberia are linked by a single continental shelf, thus making the polar region a geological extension of Russia. The vessels recovered samples from the seabed in an attempt to demonstrate that the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater shelf that runs through the Arctic, is an extension of Russian territory. The United Nations rejected that claim in 2002, citing lack of proof, but Moscow is expected to make its case again in 2009. Denmark and Canada also argue that the Lomonosov Ridge is connected to their territories. Norway is also conducting a survey to strengthen its case. All five Arctic nations are competing to secure subsurface rights to the seabed. One study by the US Geological Survey estimates that the Arctic has as much as 25 per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas. Canada was furious at the attempted Russian land grab. “This isn’t the 15th century,” Peter MacKay, the Canadian Foreign Minister, said. “You can’t go around the world and just plant flags and say, ‘We’re claiming this territory’.” The move has clearly rattled the Harper administration, which is under domestic pressure to beef up its sovereignty claims to the disputed region. Mr Harper said that his announcement of the new military facilities would “tell the world that Canada has a real, growing, long-term presence in the Arctic”. Standing next to Gordon O’Connor, his Defence Minister, and a group of Rangers – a rifle-toting Inuit volunteer force – Mr Harper added: “Protecting national sovereignty, the integrity of our borders, is the first and foremost responsibility of a national government.” Last month Mr Harper announced that six to eight new navy patrol ships would be built to guard the Northwest Passage sea route in the Arctic.
Canada Plans Two Military Facilities In Arctic
Canada says it plans to build two new military facilities in the Arctic, including a deep-water port and training center for Canadian military personnel. The announcement on August 10 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper came a week after Russian explorers using submarines symbolically staked a claim to the region by planting a flag at a depth of 4,200 meters, beneath the ice of the North Pole. The Russian effort has been regarded as a move to help advance Russia's claims to oil, gas, and mineral resources on the Arctic seabed. Under international law, none of the surrounding Arctic states -- Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway, or Denmark -- owns the North Pole or the Arctic Ocean. Sovereignty rights are guided by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Under international law, Russia, Canada, Norway, the United States, and Denmark currently each control 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones in the Arctic Ocean extending from their coastlines. But the law also allows a country to file a claim on additional territory beyond its exclusive economic zone if it can define the outer limits of its continental shelf -- in the Russian case the Lomonosov Ridge. Moscow said the expedition would help prove that the North Pole is a geological extension of Russia.
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Putin praises new radar station near St. Petersburg
President Vladimir Putin said Saturday he was satisfied with the new Voronezh anti-missile radar station recently built near St. Petersburg. Putin, who attended a session on the development of the aviation engines industry, said he hoped the Defense Ministry would ensure the unconditional implementation of all plans for the modernization of the Russian Army and Navy. "This [radar] is the first step toward the implementation of the overall program, which is intended to be implemented by 2015," Putin said. "It is pleasant to note that it was achieved not only within the set timeframe, but also with the use of Russian intellectual and production means." The radar station, located in Lekhtusi, near St. Petersburg, began operating December 22, 2006, and is capable of monitoring territory stretching from the North Pole to North Africa. "This is what we, in effect, call the modern development of our Armed Forces - an innovative development of those Armed Forces. It is considerably less expensive, more effective and more reliable," he said. He noted that former Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov devoted a great deal of time to the question of modernizing Russia's Armed Forces. "I hope that the new military leadership will also do all it can to guarantee to realization of plans for the modernization of the Army and Navy," Putin said.