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Canadian paper warns of new Cold War over arctic riches

Working to implement a “strategy to reverse years of neglect and decline in its Far North,” Russia appears ready to re-embrace a Cold War, according to a detailed story in the Toronto Star.  Home to vast mineral resources including oil, zinc, and gold, for example, the Arctic is viewed by Russia as its strategic future, and it is moving to try to make the often unforgiving environment profitable, and to firm up its claims on disputed territories.

The scramble for Arctic riches is not exactly a new development. Our very own Daniel McGroarty warned of a new Cold War in 2007 (subscription-based), when Russian scientists made headlines with their symbolic planting of a Russian flag in the Arctic muck near the North Pole, kicking off a flurry of activities by Canada, Denmark and Norway, all of which also have territory north of the Arctic Circle.

What has changed since then, is the heightened sense of urgency with which countries are beginning to treat their resource supply situations.  In the context of nations rushing to overhaul their mineral strategies, we can expect the Arctic, to which the U.S. is fortunate to have a claim via “Seward’s (really not-so-foolish) Folly” a.k.a. Alaska, to play an ever-increasing role in global resource war games in the foreseeable future.