The Arctic remains an area with low conflict potential, despite territorial disagreements and the current tension between Russia and the West. But to preserve this state of affairs, the international community must make serious efforts to work together.
This continued cooperation is indicative of the importance of the Arctic, one of the world’s most unique ecosystems and one of the its richest in terms of natural resources. Scientists believe that the Arctic contains 13 percent of the world’s unproven oil reserves, 30 percent of the world’s natural gas and about 10 percent of the world’s fish resources. The region is also becoming more accessible as polar ice melts, making dialogue between circumpolar countries ever more important….
The Arctic waters are divided into sectors of responsibility belonging to five countries — Russia, the U.S., Norway, Denmark and Canada — but the borders delineating national waters have still not been fully defined. Ownership of the sea areas is established according to the continental shelf and is often difficult to determine. As a result, disputes persist. In 2015, Russia filed an application with the UN to expand its Arctic territory by 1.2 million square kilometers. Russia’s request crosses over onto Canada and Denmark’s territorial claims. For now the request is being reviewed (Canada’s response will be filed only in 2018) and the fate of the contested territories is unclear…
A region of mutual defense
Due to the Arctic’s resources and unresolved territorial issues, the region has the potential to be an area for conflict — even military conflict — between Russia and NATO.