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Bombers and submarines: US prepares for battles in the Arctic

This post was published in Gazeta.ru. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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MOSCOW, (BM) – The United States sent strategic bombers and nuclear submarines to the Arctic. Washington believes that this will be a mirror response to Russia’s recent actions in the region.

One of the most powerful nuclear attack submarines of the US Navy made a call at the Norwegian port, the US Navy said late last week. A little later, six strategic bombers B-52 of the US Air Force flew from the US to the UK, writes Forbes.

With the constant deployment of American troops in various regions of the world, today’s submarine and bomber missions cannot seem unusual.

“But think about how they apparently got to Northern Europe. Strategic bombers flew over the pack ice of the Earth’s polar dome, and submarines passed in the depths of the Arctic Ocean,” writes Forbes.

The article notes that climate change, reflected in global warming, is increasing the temperature of northern waters, thereby significantly reducing the polar ice cover. “Therefore, the Russian armed forces are expanding and improving their capabilities for waging war in the Arctic,” the author of the material is sure.

Pentagon leaders are usually very cautious about the operational deployment of their Air Force and Navy in certain regions of the world. “Our ability to respond quickly to changes in the environment and reassure allies and partners of their safety is based on the fact that we can deploy our strategic B-52 bombers at any time,” said General Jeff Harrigian, US Air Force Europe and Africa.

According to the military, at present, the presence of bombers in the UK will help strengthen trusting relations with American NATO allies and partner countries.

For example, the Norwegian Air Force wasted no time in this regard. National Air Force F-16 fighters escorted US strategic bombers as the B-52 passed through Norwegian airspace en route from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to RAF Base Fairford.

The US Navy’s announcement of the arrival of the USS Seawolf at the Norwegian port of Tromsø was more remarkable, as the US Navy almost never publicly announces the movement of its submarines. When this happens, it is far from an ordinary phenomenon.

“Seawolf, a multipurpose nuclear submarine, has made a sea transition from the Bangor naval base, Washington state, to the US 6th Fleet’s area of ​​responsibility, thereby demonstrating the global nature of US submarine operations and their desire to provide our combat and operational capabilities to perform unique missions with unrivaled readiness anywhere in the oceans,” said Vice Admiral Daryl Coadle, commander of the US Navy’s submarine forces.

“It’s worth paying attention to the context,” writes Forbes. According to the newspaper, “Russia has created conditions for interference in Belarus after the recent election fraud in this country and the massive public protests caused by them. Recently, the Russian fleet staged a simulated landing on an Arctic island. The Russian Aerospace Forces are expanding their airfield network in the Far North ”.

The current confrontation in the Arctic is in many ways reminiscent of a return to the days of the Cold War.

During that historical period, Moscow and Washington were actively operating in the Arctic, writes Forbes. Crews of B-52 strategic bombers trained to cross the North Pole to drop atomic bombs on the Soviet Union. Especially for the hunt for Soviet ballistic missile submarines hiding under the Arctic ice, the US Navy received multipurpose nuclear submarines of the Seawolf class.

“But do not take the deployment of American troops to mean that the administration of US President Donald Trump is suddenly taking tough measures against Russia,” writes Forbes.

The Pentagon seems determined to counter Russian action in the Arctic. At the same time, at the political level, the White House actually softened the US position in Europe. The Donald Trump administration has decided to withdraw hundreds of US Marines from Norway and thousands of US military personnel from Germany.

Not only the countries of the Arctic Ocean basin – the USA, Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark – but also the powers of other regions, for example, China, are entering the struggle for the Arctic region. Polar exploration has long since moved from the realm of science to the realm of economics, which has led to a fierce political dispute between states bordering the Arctic.

There are quite a lot of different kinds of disagreements and contradictions in potentially conflict areas between states-interested parties in the Arctic.

First, there remains uncertainty in the outlines of the exclusive economic zones of the countries of the region.

This problem did not arise yesterday, and it will not be resolved tomorrow. The fact is that international legislation in this area as applied to the Arctic is today formulated in such a way that, voluntarily or involuntarily, controversial issues arise.

The cost of the issue in this case is extremely high: the Arctic region may contain up to a quarter of the world’s potential oil and gas resources.

Much has been said about this recently, although it is not always added that at the current price level, hydrocarbon production in the Arctic is most likely unprofitable at this stage, but tomorrow the situation may change dramatically.

Secondly, an equally acute problem in the Arctic region is the disputes over the powers of certain states regarding the Northern Sea Route.

Recently, more and more often, the United States has expressed opinions about the weakening of the Russian presence in the Arctic and the internationalization of the Northern Sea Route.

That is, in Washington, they are leading to the fact that the NSR should become a transport artery open to the entire world community, and not only be the Russian national transport communication.

Russia’s position on the NSR, according to Western experts, does not always look convincing and is, to a certain extent, a violation of international maritime law and contradicts the principle of the peaceful use of the World Ocean.

In turn, the West is wondering why the space, which is not Russia’s territorial waters, is declared the property of Moscow. On this basis, significant incidents can arise.

When analyzing the possibility of a large-scale war in the Arctic, the most fundamental thing is that today there are no players in this region, the conflict between which would not have the risk of escalating into a general nuclear war.

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