US claims the Arctic, challenging Russia and China

Author : "New Journal of Zurich" Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Source : Neuen Zürcher Zeitung

Washington did not succeed in buying Greenland, as US President Donald Trump wished last summer. Nevertheless, he wants to provide different financial support to the island
20:56, 5 May 2020

Greenland island
AP photo

The US has announced that it would provide financial support to Greenland. Thus, it wants to strengthen its positions in the Arctic, where Russia is actively building up its forces and China is striving for influence. But some consider Washington’s actions provocative, not only Moscow and Beijing but also Copenhagen.

Washington did not succeed in buying Greenland, as US President Donald Trump wished last summer. Nevertheless, he wants to provide different financial support to the island, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark but has wide autonomy. Although we are talking about a small amount for the United States at $ 12 million, by the standards of Greenland it is quite substantial. The head of the Greenland government, Kim Kielsen, was moved by this gesture.

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Attacks on Russia and China

Shortly before the official confirmation of cooperation in the middle of last week, the US ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, in her comment for Altinget online magazine criticized Russia for its aggressive behavior and arms buildup in the Arctic region. In addition, she accused China of increasingly active actions in the Arctic in order to promote its own economic interests and propaganda of authoritarian and anti-freedom values. Given how Beijing operates in other regions, such as the South China Sea, without paying attention to generally recognized rules and regulations, its actions are worrisome, Sands said.

According to her, by offering financial support to Greenland, the United States seeks to advance its vision of the situation in the Arctic, which is based on transparency and democratic values. At the same time, Washington offers itself to other countries as a “preferred partner” in the polar region.

At the same time, Greenland is important for the United States, not least from a military-strategic point of view. The Tule airbase in the north of the island is part of the US missile threat early warning system. And since Russia is expanding its military presence in the Far North and is building the Nagurskoye Arctic base, the Tule airbase is becoming more vulnerable.

According to political analysts specializing in the Arctic, Washington’s initiative in relation to Greenland is quite logical, because the United States is currently significantly behind Russia and China in terms of developing military and civilian infrastructure in the Far North. Most noticeable is the lag in the naval aspect. Russia and China are rapidly working to strengthen the icebreaker fleets.

Related: Territorial issue: Why Trump is interested in buying Greenland?

Diplomatic exchange of blows

Russian ambassador to Denmark, Vladimir Barbin, reacted to Carla Sands’s statements. According to him, the United States is striving for dominance in the Arctic region, and for this purpose is betting on a policy of confrontation, Barbin wrote at the end of last week in an article for the newspaper Politiken. In an interview with DR radio, Danish foreign policy expert Hans Mouritzen pointed out that this “exchange of blows” indicates an impending worsening of the security policy in the High North. This, in turn, becomes a challenge for Denmark, especially since a diplomatic dispute erupts on its territory.

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However, Americans’ flirting of with Greenland caused skepticism in Copenhagen itself. Although the Danish Foreign Ministry, which has the final say on Greenland’s foreign policy contacts, said that although it was a matter of bilaterally agreed action, opposition representatives were confident that Washington would neglect cooperation with Copenhagen. So, MP Rasmus Yarlov called these actions “absolutely unacceptable.”

Rudolf Hermann

Read the original text at Neue Zürcher Zeitung

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