The chief of Russia’s General Staff has said that Russia will offer an adequate response to military developments in the Arctic region, in the latest sign that the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice is opening the region for potential territorial disputes.
General Nikolai Makarov commented: ‘Overall, we are looking at how far the region will be militarised. Depending on that, we’ll then decide what to do.'
Earlier, in a conference in Iceland, NATO’s Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called attention to the rising strategic importance of the Arctic region. The United States also launched a policy directive in the last days of the Bush administration that called for the US to assert its interests in the region.
The Arctic seabed is widely expected to hold large untapped energy resources; the US Geological Survey recently estimated that the Arctic may hold 30 % of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13 % of undiscovered oil. The melting of sea ice is opening these previously inaccessible resources for commercial exploitation.