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‘Nightmare’: US fears an alliance between China and Russia in the Arctic

MOSCOW, (BM) – If Russia and China jointly challenge the United States in the Arctic, Washington will not be ready for this, said American expert Michael Lyons, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Russian news agency Izvestia. In his opinion, the United States is lagging behind its rivals, which are growing in the region as economic opportunities increase there.

Read more: Washington is concerned by the Russian military facilities in the Arctic

The National Interest journalist Michael Lyons called the prospect of a joint Russian-Chinese challenge to US interests in the Arctic a “nightmare” of Washington, which he is absolutely not ready to resist.

“The Arctic is a region that American politicians rarely pay attention to, but which plays a key role in the politics of world powers,” the author noted.

He expressed the opinion that due to climate change in the region, new economic opportunities are opening up, therefore, the major world powers are increasingly declaring their intention to dominate there.

“Unfortunately for American strategists, Washington is far behind its rivals,” Lyons said. He drew attention to the fact that the United States Coast Guard, like China, has only two icebreakers, and the Russian fleet has at least four dozen such ships, and by 2035 it will have 13 more nuclear icebreakers.

The author of the article recalled that in 2018 China declared itself a near-Arctic state and began to prepare for the creation of sea trade routes in the Arctic region within the framework of the Polar Silk Road initiative. As indicated in the material, it is already clear that Beijing, with its observer status in the Arctic Council and cooperating with Russia in the region, is demonstrating a determined desire to become an important player in the “relatively exclusive” game.

“Confronting such an adversary as Russia in the Arctic entails a number of challenges, but the prospect of a joint Russian-Chinese challenge to the interests of the United States in the Arctic is a potential techno-thriller and a nightmare that America is completely unprepared to confront,” Lyons said.

He emphasized that the Arctic is not only “a potential corridor for strategic rivalry” and “a potential platform for expanded rivalry between major powers.” The expert is convinced that “the game has already begun,” and US politicians are lagging behind their counterparts from other countries in response to this threat.

Read more: Russia creates Arctic defense dome using S-400 defense missile systems

On the same day, Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan announced that the United States would deploy 150 fifth-generation military aircraft in the Arctic. He clarified that we are talking about F-35 and F-22 fighters.

In addition, the senator mentioned the expansion of the port of Nome in Alaska, which should become the first deep-water port in the United States in the Arctic Circle. Sullivan said this would “send a signal” to powers such as Russia and China that the United States intends to defend its interests in the Arctic.

Pentagon chief Mark Esper said earlier that Washington should be able to confront Russia and China in all corners of the world. “China and Russia are present in all parts of the world, and we need to deal with them both within the US Central Command and in the Arctic, within the Indo-Pacific Command or in Europe,” the United States Secretary of Defense said during his speech in Asia – Daniel Inoue Pacific Security Research Center.

In late July, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry Nikolai Korchunov said in an interview with RIA Novosti that Russia is acting in the Arctic in proportion to the military-political situation.

“Russia’s activities to modernize the Armed Forces and conduct combat and operational training in the Arctic are not redundant and have a defensive nature. It is commensurate with the emerging military-political situation, does not pose threats to the national security of the Arctic states, does not violate any international legal agreements and is aimed, among other things, at ensuring environmental safety, rescue and scientific work in the northern latitudes,” the diplomat emphasized.

He drew attention to the fact that Moscow has never deployed its military contingents in the Arctic on the territory of other countries. In addition, the Russian Federation did not provide its territory for the deployment of troops of other states, including extra-regional ones, Korchunov stated.

Read more: Heavily armed Russian Ka-29 helicopters are preparing for Arctic operations

“In addition, Russia refrains from conducting military exercises in the Arctic region with non-Arctic states, since their military activity in high latitudes only weakens regional security, increases conflict and tension,” the diplomat concluded.

The State Department saw in Russia’s actions in the Arctic a threat to NATO

The growing Russian military presence in the Arctic threatens NATO’s anti-submarine defense line in the North Atlantic, said on May 7 the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Michael Murphy.

“China and Russia are increasingly striving to challenge the interests of the United States, the West and the Allies. <…> And the Arctic is no exception,” the American diplomat said.

According to Murphy, Russia has created a developed infrastructure in the Arctic, announced the dispatch of S-400 missile defense systems to the Kola Peninsula, and formed new Arctic units. In his opinion, these actions go beyond the protection of territories, jeopardizing the Faroe-Icelandic border.

In September 2019, Russia began to equip units based in the region with S-400 complexes. The first new system received a regiment on the island of South archipelago of Novaya Zemlya.

In December, the commander of the Northern Fleet, Alexander Moiseev, said that all Arctic divisions of the Northern Fleet would receive S-400 complexes, which would allow the creation of an air defense dome over the Russian part of the Arctic.

Read more: New Drone for Arctic Operations Displayed by Kalashnikov Group

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