As this article, and its remarkable pictures, show, Putin not only is investing heavily in the exploitation of newly accessible (due to AGW) Arctic resources, he is also establishing a strong military presence in the area to consolidate Russian dominance in the region.
Petrochemical development will be partially financed and technologically supported by his partnership with Exxon (negotiated with US Secretary of State Tillotson). Here is the other side of the coin.
Low oil prices and Western sanctions imposed over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine mean new offshore Arctic projects have for now been mothballed, but the Kremlin is playing a longer game.
It is building three nuclear icebreakers, including the world’s largest, to bolster its fleet of around 40 breakers, six of which are nuclear. No other country has a nuclear breaker fleet, used to clear channels for military and civilian ships.
Russia’s Northern Fleet, based near Murmansk in the Kola Bay’s icy waters, is also due to get its own icebreaker, its first, and two ice-capable corvettes armed with cruise missiles.
President Obama tried to secure funding for a state-of-the-art icebreaker, but it was shut down by a Republican-dominated Congress. Why do we need icebreakers if the polar ice is melting?
Because it isn’t all going to melt away overnight. As the polar ice diminishes, the navigation season in the Arctic will last longer, and extend further, and Arctic development will slowly expand into marginal, but increasingly accessible areas.
The Russians obviously understand this. We don’t.