Stalking a New Frontier: The Arctic

In 2007, Russia sent two mini-subs to the seabed two and a half miles under the North Pole to plant its flag — a move that, however symbolic, points to new rivalries over its potential riches. Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States also have territory in the Arctic Circle, and international conventions entitle them to economic zones within 200 miles of their borders. But Russia claims — without international support so far — that the seabed is an extension of its continental shelf, and Denmark has begun looking at the shelf off its territory in Greenland.

Russia has already used its oil and gas exports as instruments of state power in dealing with other former Soviet republics. Now, how the seabed would be divided, managed or protected promises to be a subject of dispute with other Arctic nations, presumably to be settled by new treaties or conventions.

Meanwhile, changing ecosystems threaten Arctic fishing industries. “This could become a geopolitical dispute, as dwindling global fish stocks squeeze an already suffering industry,” according to a study, “Sustaining Security: How Natural Resources Influence National Security,” by the Center for a New American

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