Map of the Arctic region showing shipping routes Northeast Passage, Northern Sea Route, and Northwest Passage, and bathymetry, Arctic Council, by Susie Harder
Two recent articles, first from the Institute for the Study of War, a discussion of how the Russians appear to be following the lead of the Chinese in the South and East China Seas by militarizing the Arctic and attempting to thwart the concept of innocent passage just as they have at the Kerch Strait connecting the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea.
Keep in mind the Navy had asked the Coast Guard to provide an icebreaker to conduct a Freedom of Navigation Exercise in the Arctic, but the Coast Guard felt it would be unable to provide because of the state of the icebreaker fleet.
It also considers the apparent frienemy relationship between Russia and China. Russia needs China’s investment, but distrust China’s long term motivation.
Thanks to Sven for bringing this to my attention
Second, an article from the US Naval Institute discussing Chinese ambitions in the Arctic and Antarctica, “China’s Activities in the Polar Regions Cannot Go Unchecked.”
Apparently they are planning a permanent airport in Antarctica.
“Beijing claims the new airfield would support scientific research and economic tourism. But like many overseas Chinese facilities, it could be quickly, easily, and covertly repurposed for military use.”
‘The Chinese government currently spends more than any other state on new Antarctic infrastructure—bases, planes, and icebreakers intended to underpin China’s claimed Antarctic resource and governance rights.”
In the Arctic, China is making,
“strategic investment in infrastructures and resources that may serve military or security as well as commercial purposes (but which often make little economic sense), and scientific research that advances both military and commercial interests.”
It appears the Chinese, in addition to their interests in the Arctic for transportation and resource exploitation, may be positioning themselves to make extensive claims in Antarctica when the current treaty system expires in 2048 or if it should be annulled earlier.
Frankly I feel we are going to see a land rush in 2048, with all the craziness that can bring.