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Sunday, 20 January 2019 00:17

Jyllands-Posten (Denmark): began a new race in the Arctic

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Officially, the Arctic countries agreed to keep the Arctic zone free from geopolitical tensions, the Danish newspaper reminds. However, the region is rich in raw materials and has an invaluable strategic importance in terms of security policy. In addition, other countries have claims to the Arctic. Danish experts are alarmed, first of all, by China's investments in Greenland.


Nuclear icebreaker "Yamal»

The two-hundred-meter Danish vessel "Venta Maersk" with a capacity of 3.6 thousand containers has just completed a risky passage along the Northern sea route. Coming out of Vladivostok, it passed through the Bering Strait separating the United States and Russia, rounded the Arctic coast of Russia and Norway and crossed the Baltic sea. The ship finished its journey in St. Petersburg, becoming the first container ship to make this dangerous route.

The flight took five weeks. Everything went well, according to the company "Meller-Maersk".

"Swimming has given us a wealth of experience. We have tested ship systems, crew capabilities and ground support operations, " says Palle Laursen, technical Director of Maersk.

In recent years, shipping companies have been looking more closely at the Northern sea route to expand the current route network. Compared with the route through the Suez canal, the Northern sea route is shorter, cheaper and also takes half the time.

With climate change, the ice boundary has moved northwards, opening up rich opportunities for navigation. The volume of traffic is growing rapidly. In 2010, only four ships dared to embark on a journey along the Northern sea route. Today there are hundreds. A number of experts predict that by 2040 the Arctic will be free of ice entirely.

Container shipping and commercial shipping are peaceful. But the changes in the Arctic are so great that the great powers of the world have already included the once deserted and inaccessible region in their military strategic plans.

Geopolitical battle for the Arctic

Despite the constant cold, the Arctic has become a new hot spot for global security policy. Now there is a virtual race to the Arctic, it's something like a hundred years ago competition between Amundsen and Scott: who will be the first to reach the South pole. It involves both superpowers and smaller countries, and each in the region has its own "actions" and its own interests.

The task is to secure the right to huge deposits of oil and gas hidden in the depths of the Arctic. Now, when the region is released from the ice, it will be possible to deploy large-scale searches and production. In addition, we are talking about military means to support their geopolitical claims in this sensitive region.


Thanks to Greenland, Denmark can be considered a great Arctic power. Denmark, Russia, USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland have ownership in the Arctic or border it — and therefore are part of the Arctic Council. Now they are engaged in internecine disputes. Nevertheless, they agree that they have the primary right to a vast territory, which they intend to divide among themselves. Hitherto it was very peaceful under the auspices of the UN, which, however, did not stop the growth of military tension. In addition, other countries dream of stepping on the Arctic ice.

Denmark is a key player

"Of course, we recognize that the Arctic is of fundamental importance for Russia — as well as for ourselves. Just look at the world map! We want the Arctic to remain a low-voltage zone, because we actually cooperate well with the Russians in the Arctic," explains defense Minister Klaus iort Frederiksen (Klaus Hjort Frederiksen). "Denmark, of course, closely monitors the actions of Russia," he adds.

Watching the Russians and the US. In August the Pentagon restored disbanded was the Second fleet. His job is to patrol the North Atlantic. This should be a response to Russia's actions in the Arctic.

China — and it is very far from the Arctic-argues that the top of the globe can not belong to anyone specifically and should be a common good. In 2014, China announced that China intends to become a "polar superpower".

Against the background of the growing interest of China, Professor of the center for military research of the University of Copenhagen Andre Ken Jacobsson (André Ken Jakobsson) believes that the statement that the Arctic is a territory of low tension, is no longer true. Take China's interest in investing in Greenland, including a network of local airports and the closed military base Gronnedal.

"Everyone strives for a conflict-free solution of issues. The only problem is that China's interests in relation to the sea "silk road" are contrary to American interests. Countries that usually prefer to do business with the US will increasingly cooperate with China," he says. In his opinion, Pakistan is a vivid example of what the US Chinese intentions have already noticed.

"The same will happen in the Arctic. Investment in Greenlandic airports was only a minor prelude to future developments. The Chinese see the Arctic ocean as the focus of their future trade routes, and there they will have to confront Russia or several NATO members. Therefore, the easiest way to cling to Greenland, " says Andre Ken Jacobsson.

China as a polar superpower

The Danish military intelligence service also warns about China's ambitions.

"The close ties between Chinese companies and China's Communist leadership pose particular risks due to China's extensive investment in Greenland," Danish intelligence warns in its recent risk assessment, where China and the Arctic have a special role to play.

The police security service has just recently seconded its security adviser to the Greenland capital of Nuuk for consultation and monitoring of the Arctic zone.

Klaus yort Frederiksen believes that the Arctic as such has no fundamental importance for the Chinese foreign policy agenda. The Chinese are much more interested in energy and access to natural resources, he said: "Of course, we should not be naive. China thinks far and looks at things strategically, this also applies to its investments and presence in the Arctic."

Top of the world

The Arctic ocean is claimed by a number of countries — even though not all of them border on the territory around the North pole. They justify their position by the fact that this area falls into the category of the common good. Officially, everyone agreed to make the Arctic a low-voltage zone, but the build-up of the military structure is in full swing.

Questions about the division of subsoil are within the competence of the UN Commission on the law of the sea. There are regular meetings where Denmark participates with Greenland as the Danish United Kingdom.

The Arctic Council, which includes the countries of the Arctic region and its indigenous peoples, deals exclusively with civil development and environmental protection, but does not deal with military Affairs and security. Denmark is also a member.

Until now, the focus in the Arctic has been on Russia. As noted by Andre Ken Jacobsson, the Danes have extensive experience with Russia, and Denmark has a rough idea of how to deal with the Russians. In addition, Russia has a more modest economy than China, and therefore does not have the same broad investment opportunities.

This year, China presented a new Arctic strategy, which defined its interests in the region. Currently, Beijing is also building icebreakers and is considering the Arctic in the context of its major silk road project, which is expected to connect China with Western Europe. India also registered as an Arctic power, securing observer status in the Arctic Council in 2013, along with Singapore, Korea and Italy. Switzerland later joined the Council.

British soldiers in Norway

Not borders with the Arctic and the UK. However, a few months ago, the British government announced that it was developing its own Arctic defence strategy, which included, among other things, the deployment of a British contingent of 800 soldiers in Northern Norway. Together with their Norwegian and Dutch colleagues, they will observe Russia's military operations in the Arctic, said defense Minister Gavin Williamson (Gavin Williamson).

He referred to the dramatically increased activity of Russian submarines and the restoration of previously closed military bases during the cold war.

"We must declare our presence and readiness to defend our interests," Gavin Williamson said. "Under the ice, Russia has a lot of submarines, and it plans to build more than 100 military facilities in the Arctic. Russians make claims and carry out militarization of the region. We must be ready to solve problems as they come," he added.

Norway and the United States jointly operate a radar station in ward. The station is located in the North of Norway and is also undergoing active modernization. From here you can observe most of the Kola Peninsula, including tracking the movement of the Russian Northern fleet and Intercontinental missiles.

A year and a half ago, Russian fighters simulated an attack on the ward, without violating the airspace of Norway.

"This behavior does not contribute to the development of good — neighborly relations," the Norwegian foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Russia is investing heavily

No one invests in the Arctic as much as Russia. The Kremlin has moved the Arctic to the center of its military strategy. When a few years ago, Russian defense Minister Dmitry Rogozin (so in the text, approx. pens.) presented an updated fleet strategy, the Atlantic and the Arctic were identified as strategically important areas for the Russian fleet.

Russia is systematically expanding its presence in the Arctic region. Among other things, the Kremlin announced the construction of a fleet of nuclear icebreakers. The construction of one icebreaker can take up to 10 years, so long-term planning may be required.

President Putin constantly says that it is necessary to further increase the military presence in the region. Recently there was a whole the Arctic army with its headquarters in Murmansk, a military district in the Arctic has been reorganized. Airfields and roads are being built. Large-scale military exercises are increasingly being conducted.

As is often the case, Arctic weapons have taken their place in the traditional victory parades, which are held on red square in Moscow. In particular, there was shown a new missile system in a distinctive Arctic camouflage, said senior researcher Danish Institute for international studies, Splidsboel Flemming Hansen (Flemming Splidsboel Hansen).

During large-scale NATO exercises "United Trident", held in Norway in October, there were reports that Russia had cut the connection between the structures of NATO. It is assumed that this is the work of the Arctic command, which under the command of 3 thousand people.

"Russia delivers the Arctic with great fanfare. The Arctic in Russia is a big topic. None of the Arctic countries is not as pronounced identity, as in Russia. This is an echo of the Soviet era, when many expeditions were carried out. The Arctic has always held a special place in the minds of Russians", explains Flemming, Splidsboel Hansen.

Many words, lower case

Nevertheless, he emphasizes that Russia is cunning about the Arctic in its own way. "Arctic" allocations to the Russian armed forces for the period 2015-2020 quietly decreased by 94%. In 2017, a new strategic plan for the region for 2018-25 was adopted, much more modest.

"Statements about ambitious plans for the Arctic — both civilian and military — are often followed by significant reductions, and the world press does not pay due attention to this," he explains. In addition, stresses, Splidsboel Hansen, Russia has good working relations with other stakeholders in the region, including Denmark.

Disputes over the delimitation of the Arctic ocean are considered in the UN Commission on the law of the sea. Perhaps the most famous of them — a lawsuit about the Lomonosov ridge length of 1.8 thousand kilometers, which claims Russia. It is believed that the offshore shelf in this place is particularly rich in oil and gas.

Many still remember the colorful presentation of 2007, when Russian divers installed a small Russian flag on the seabed at the North pole and on the Lomonosov ridge in order to approve the Russian championship in this region. In 2012, Russian researchers even proposed to rename the area "Russian sea". However, this proposal did not find a response.

The growth of military tensions

Denmark (as, indeed, Canada) rejects Russia's claims, considering the Lomonosov ridge to be the spur of the continental shelf of Greenland. These issues have been discussed for years, and Denmark is a permanent participant in the discussions.

Despite good intentions, the risk of escalation of the conflict in the Arctic still exists. The more people talk about him, the easier it is for him to break out. NATO's new Atlantic command, designed to provide transatlantic links in times of crisis, is also moving North. This can lead to further growth of tension in relations between NATO and Russia, says Flemming Hansen, Splidsboel.

A number of foreign Ministers justify Denmark's investment in the Arctic by the fact that it must remain a low-voltage zone in the future. But Denmark is also strengthening its military presence, asserting sovereignty and strengthening control.

Defense Minister Klaus yort Frederiksen notes that Denmark would like to adhere to the peaceful development of the Arctic in the future: "at the same time, we have no right to be naive when other countries are gaining a foothold in the region. Therefore, we must pay constant attention to the development of the Arctic and North Atlantic together with our allies."

... "Venta Maersk" passed the Northern sea route safe and sound. Now in disputed waters brewing new adventures.


Source: https://inosmi.ru/politic/20181226/244315447.html

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