- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Dmitry Medvedev stepped up the brewing territorial conflict in the Arctic today by announcing that Russia would formalize its northern border. The competition for energy resources in the Arctic region has been heating up as global warming has made them more accessible.
Under international law, the five countries with Arctic claims — Russia, Canada, the United States, Norway, and Denmark (Greenland) — can exploit resources up to 200 miles off their coastlines. The Russians say their continental shelf extends under the North Pole, where they used a miniature submarine to plant the Russian flag last year in a widely reported publicity stunt.
Our first and fundamental task is to turn the Arctic into a resource base for Russia in the 21st century. Using these resources will entirely guarantee Russia’s energy security. […] We must finalize and draft a law on setting the southern border of the Arctic region…. This is our responsibility to future generations.”
The folks in Canada, which has a massive Arctic claim as well, aren’t taking this very well. Canada was already looking north uneasily after the invasion of Georgia and has been conducting military excercises in the region. Some commentators are now calling for Canada to increase its activity in the Arctic in order to bolster its territorial claim. There is apparently no ban on weapons in the area so it’s not hard to imagine things getting out of hand.
As for the United States’ own Arctic rights, I can’t help thinking that this is an international topic that the governor of Alaska might actually be expected to know about. Maybe Sean Hannity could ask her for us tonight?