Russia and China. Meanwhile, What About the United States?


Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin paid an official visit to China from May 23 to 24. It was perhaps one of the most significant recent Russian visits to China this year. The main aim of the visit was to promote dialogue with the business community. Mikhail Mishustin delivered his remarks at the Russian-Chinese Business Forum in Shanghai. More than 1,200 participants took part in the forum.

Several experts have already called these talks triumphant. The participants of the meeting themselves characterized Russian-Chinese relations as a "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership".

Business and trade, industry and construction, technology and education, culture, energy and ecology - in these and other areas the closest and most fruitful cooperation is planned between two countries. Logistics should become "seamless". The One Belt One Roadproject will play an important role in this matter. The two superpowers intend to finally stop using the dollar in mutual settlements. Since the beginning of the year, trade turnover has increased by more than 40% compared to previous periods. And if in 2021 only 25% of all settlements were made in national currencies, this year 70 percent of Russia-China cross-border settlements are made in national currencies. The data were presented at the Russian-Chinese Business Forum during Mishustin's visit to Shanghai. The forum was attended by 1,200 heads of leading companies in Russia and China.

Cooperation between the countries in the Arctic has already begun. Chinese drilling rigs are a great example of collaboration. They fully satisfy the Russian side and are in no way inferior to their Western counterparts. "China is one of the most important strategic partners of our country. We have established traditionally good relations, and our cooperation can accelerate the process of development of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation as a whole," said Alexey Fadeev, Executive Director of the Association of Polar Explorers of the Murmansk Region and Professor of the Graduate School of Production Management at Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. Alexey Fadeev is confident that the Celestial Empire has great interests in the Arctic region, given China's desire to be present in all significant territories and its statement declaring itself a "Near-Arctic state". Besides he also said that environmental research, energy and food security are at the top of the list here. Since Arctic Climate Change directly affects most parts of the country.

As one of the world's biggest carbon polluters, China is interested in solving environmental problems. According to the expert, China takes into account that the Arctic contains about 25% of the planet's hydrocarbon reserves. In addition to oil and gas, the Arctic is rich in rare-earth metals used in the production of smartphones and alternative energy sources. The Chinese do not hide the fact that they do not have enough of them on their territory but seek to gain access to them through cooperation with Russia and other countries whose territories are in this region. However, while attempts to enter the Arctic via Finland have not been successful (two years ago China was denied the purchase and even lease of one of the airports, which is not used permanently, due to "security issues"), Russia intends to use the experience of Norway. Norway some time ago began attracting foreign companies to work on its territory on Arctic issues. Russia is going to do the same. Thus, it is possible that the "Chinese expansion" will be to the benefit of our country and, as a result, both superpowers will be the winners in this situation. Such a scenario is possible if outside forces do not alter the constructive evolutionary path outlined by the two states. The intended path may be hindered by those for whom military confrontations are a favorite way to achieve their goals and the main source of income. After all, if Washington hadn't been preparing, the Bloomberg agency wouldn't have called the Arctic "a new region of a possible clash between the United States and Russia" in March of this year.

At the same time, NATO, once again under the guise of "protecting its borders from Russia," is pouring huge sums of money into the militarization of the Arctic zone on the territories of countries under its control. Press conferences are organized with the participation of Norway, Sweden and Finland, where it is told how "Russia threatens NATO interests by overflying its territories in the Arctic". In the media space, this is presented to the Scandinavians as if they are forced to join a military anti-Russian coalition on a "voluntary-compulsory" basis.

The reason why Washington, which has been relatively indifferent to the Arctic issue until now, suddenly remembered "the interests of all mankind needing protection from Russia" is very simple. The rapid melting of glaciers recorded in the Arctic region during the last few years has opened up access to various natural resources. Previously, they were out of reach for the U.S. due to impassable ice cover. The dynamics of glacier melting is increasing by 13% per year compared to last year's period according to the World Wildlife Fund. However, the fund is also a "subordinate" structure of Washington. A few U.S. icebreakers are unable to compete in any way with the Russian icebreaker fleet. U.S. icebreakers are not only unable to overcome even 1.5 - 2 meters of ice but are undergoing lengthy repairs after almost every attempt to conquer the Arctic. In addition, the Arctic waters themselves make it possible to significantly save both time and money on transportation. So far, it is Russia that controls most of the U.S. transport artery - the Northern Sea Route. The United States does not like this fact.

As a result of the growing tension, both the United States and Russia made amendments to their Arctic strategies in October 2022. More precisely, the U.S. created a new one and called it "Regaining Arctic Dominance". It is a strategy for developing the U.S. presence in the Arctic until 2032. Russia, in turn, made only some adjustments to the current strategy. The U.S. strategy is based on strengthening the U.S. military presence in the Far North. Also, Moscow and Beijing are seen as rivals. The authors of the document claim that Russia is actively building up its military and economic potential in the Arctic, forcing the U.S. to defend itself. The Department of State now even has an Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic region. The main subject of the paper is the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. If so, significant Arctic territories will fall under NATO's Article 5 Collective Defense Obligations. Accordingly, it will be possible to use these territories as another platform for achieving the set, albeit not explicitly stated, goals.

Pavel Gudev, Valdai Discussion Club Expert and Leading Researcher at IMEMO RAS, spoke to and gave his assessment of the situation. He noted the repeated accusations against Russia by the United States of militarization of the Arctic. At the same time, in his opinion, it is the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO that is causing an increase in the military presence of Western countries in this hitherto peaceful region. In a hurry to achieve the task, Finland did not even hold a legitimate referendum and did not ask the opinion of its citizens about joining NATO. This, first of all, will increase the country's expenses for membership. It is a burden for the country, which is already in crisis after it was forced to cut almost all long- standing economic ties with neighboring Russia.

However, the Russian authors indicated "the absence of serious potential for conflict involving Moscow" in their updated version of the Arctic strategy. It is said that the Russian security policy in the Arctic is transparent and Russia does not pose a threat to anyone in the region. The aggressive and unconstructive behavior of the other Arctic Council Member States, which announced a boycott of Russia, creating the "7+1" format and holding meetings and sessions without Russia's participation at the behest of the United States, had an impact on Russia's Arctic strategy. In the strategy, the paragraph that referred to strengthening good neighborly relations with Arctic states was changed to "interaction on a bilateral basis within the framework of relevant multilateral structures and mechanisms," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement. "According to the changes made to Russia's state policy on the Arctic, cultural and cross-border cooperation should now be conducted in conformity with Russia's national interests," Maria Zakharova added.

Russia continues to declare its desire for cooperation in the High North on all official platforms. Though, as the country with the longest coastline in the Arctic, Russia is ready to defend its interests and territories there if necessary. Therefore, infrastructure development and fleet strengthening will continue in the Arctic. From the perspective of several Russian and international experts, "Russia's armed forces already have the largest capabilities in the Arctic in terms of numbers and armaments. The Russian military is based both in the continental North and on remote territories and islands. Russia has the world's largest icebreaker fleet. The Northern Fleet has powerful nuclear-powered submarines. There are military airfields and air defense systems, intelligence bases and radar systems in the Arctic".

According to Politico, "Russia is the leader of the Arctic global race to develop a region whose resources are of great importance to the world economy. At the same time, America is playing catch-up in a climate where it has little experience and capabilities. " NATO itself has already recognized its objectively much more modest military capabilities in the Arctic region. Equipment and military organizations are not fully adapted to operate in such conditions. But according to many observers, Washington does not intend to abandon its plans. Contrary to the sensible voice of some representatives of ruling circles, the country's leadership is seeking funds for the construction of new icebreakers by all means. It is also stirring up the already tense situation in the region with the help of NATO. All this may once again deprive the planet of adequate progressive development in the conditions of peaceful existence and cooperation. So far, it looks like the United States is stirring up a new conflict, with the hope of making money from this. The U.S. seems to be imposing the hegemony of its interests on the world, relying, as always, on the perversion of terms from their natural meaning, wordplay, exploitation, means of pressure, and double standards.



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