You are browsing the archive for Arctic Council.

Over Easy: Russia to Reorganize Military, US to Appoint Special Envoy for Arctic Region

4:49 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

As temperatures rise and ice recedes in the Arctic, uncovering oil, natural gas and mineral untapped resources in the ‘last frontier,’ Arctic Council bordering countries jockey for strategic positioning. This week, Russia announced plans to reorganize military forces in the Arctic, and US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the State Department “will establish a special representative for the arctic region.”

The Barents Observer reports that Russia will establish Northern Fleet-United Strategic Command (Severny Flot-Obedinyonnoye Strategicheskoye Komandovaniye, SF-OSK) this year, to provide security for its civilian and naval Arctic vessels and protect its natural resources. Barents Observer explains that according to its source for the news, ITAR-TASS:

SF-OSK will consist of the Northern Fleet and units of other military branches located in the northern parts of the country. This will probably include the 200. motorized infantry brigade based in Pechenga close to the border to Norway. This unit became part of the Northern Fleet in December 2012. Also newly formed units on Novaya Zemlya, the New Siberian Islands and Franz Josef Land will also be part of SF-OSK, ITAR-TASS reports.

Although the new association will have military status, it will not be officially so named.

A map of the arctic circle

Map of the Arctic with the Arctic Circle in blue.

Concerning US plans in the Arctic, on February 14, Secretary of State John Kerry issued the following press release statement, describing plans for the US:

The Arctic region is the last global frontier and a region with enormous and growing geostrategic, economic, climate, environment, and national security implications for the United States and the world.

Today I informed my two former Senate colleagues that here at the State Department we will soon have a Special Representative for the Arctic Region, a high-level official of stature who will play a critical role in advancing American interests in the Arctic Region, particularly as we prepare efforts for the United States to Chair the Arctic Council in 2015. President Obama and I are committed to elevating our attention and effort to keep up with the opportunities and consequences presented by the Arctic’s rapid transformation—a very rare convergence of almost every national priority in the most rapidly-changing region on the face of the earth.

The great challenges of the Arctic matter enormously to the United States, and they hit especially close to home for Alaska, which is why it is no wonder that Senator Begich’s very first piece of legislation aimed to create an Arctic Ambassador, or why as Foreign Relations Committee Chairman I enjoyed a close partnership with Senator Murkowski on a treaty vital to energy and maritime interests important to Alaska. Going forward, I look forward to continuing to work closely with Alaska’s Congressional delegation to strengthen America’s engagement in Arctic issues.

Russia and the United States are both members of the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council “is a high-level intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States.” This website is a good starting point for getting to know the Arctic indigenous peoples and their languages and cultures, as well as the climates and environment, oceans and biodiversity. Learn about monitoring and conservation programs and anything else of general interest. The US is set to chair the Arctic Council for a term beginning in 2015.

There are eight countries in the Arctic Council:

Canada
Denmark (representing also the dependencies of Greenland and Faeroes)
Finland
Iceland
Norway
Russia
Sweden
United States

Five of these member countries have Arctic coastlines: Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland).

Two major polar shipping routes are the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route.

The Arctic Council website says that increased economic activity and significant changes due to climatic processes are resulting in increased use, opportunities and threats to the Arctic marine and coastal environments.

Public domain image by NASA, on flickr.

Public domain image of the map above by the CIA.

Related:

Russia chooses ‘soft’ approach to the Arctic
“Recent initiatives in the Arctic Council show that Arctic nations have chosen business as a universal language of rapprochement. Russia’s limited military presence should be viewed as an opportunity to build a safer economic environment without prejudicing the security of anyone.”

NOAA Arctic Report Card: Update for 2013

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

Territorial claims in the Arctic

Arctic strategy documents – Russian Arctic strategy
Geopolitics in the High North

Over Easy: Links From the Environment

4:57 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

Requiem 2019:

Obama signals new focus on climate change, but will there be any realistic action or coordination with other countries?

The Arctic Council has an action group to address and reduce emissions, in an effort to halt climate change.

Changing climate is to blame for the whales that were trapped, according to locals.

Andean glaciers melting at ‘unprecedented’ rates. According to a study, the glaciers are melting at the fastest rates in 300 years.

6 Ways Climate Change Will Affect You

Best Space Pictures of 2012

“Fantastic” New Flying Frog Found—Has Flappy Forearms

Amphibians are in decline, and although the causes have not yet been determined, changing climate is one theory.

Use of Amphibians as Indicators of Ecosystem Restoration Success. Literally permeable, amphibians are very sensitive to any changes in the environment. We have not seen frogs in well over a year, and it was at least a year ago since we heard the songs of frogs.


Himalayas: Water Towers of Asia

I apologize for the very brief post this morning. I am under the weather (no pun intended) and will not be able to stay for very long, because I am not feeling well. I do hope that everyone has a great day. Please feel free to speak about any topic!

Over Easy: 5 Basic Arctic Geopolitics Resources

5:03 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

A map of the arctic circle

Over Easy gets chilly in the Arctic.

Arctic policy rhetoric is changing as the climate changes. Arctic geopolitics involves people and cultures, environment and ecology, zones and laws, agreements and alliances, shipping and industry, climate science, and even a donut hole. What sites can we consult to gain a basic understanding of this broad topic and follow the developments?

Aleksander Schilbach* (bio below) is currently defending a graduate thesis titled The Arctic Asia-Pacific Dimension for the University of Washington, Jackson School of International Studies: Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies Program. He recommends the following basic resources, for information and news about the Arctic region and Arctic (High North) geopolitics:

1. The Arctic Council Website.

The Arctic Council “is a high-level intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States.” This website is a good starting point for getting to know the Arctic indigenous peoples and their languages and cultures, as well as the climates and environment, oceans and biodiversity. Learn about monitoring and conservation programs and anything else of general interest.

There are eight countries in the Arctic Council:

Canada
Denmark (representing also the dependencies of Greenland and Faeroes)
Finland
Iceland
Norway
Russia
Sweden
United States

Five of these member countries have Arctic coastlines: Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland).

Two major polar shipping routes are the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route.

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Chair of the Arctic Council’s call for decisive action to combat climate change by reducing global emissions is here.

2. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. (document also here in full-text)

The Law of the Sea Convention (1982) defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources. Wiki has the list of countries that have or have not signed this treaty.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (mentioned yesterday in Fatster’s News Roundup) is an intergovernmental organization created by the mandate of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.

3. Geopolitics in the High North.

Read the rest of this entry →