From Russian Competition to Natural Resources Access: Recasting U.S. Arctic Policy
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LOST in the Arctic. The U.S. Arctic Region Pol- icy urges the Senate to approve U.S. accession to LOST. However, the U.S. can execute its Arctic policy without ratifying LOST.
At present, America is not bound by the treaty’s procedures and strictures, but the U.S. is pursuing its claims under international law as an indepen- dent, sovereign nation, relying on President Harry S. Truman’s Presidential Proclamation No. 2667, which declares that any hydrocarbon or other resources discovered beneath the U.S. continental shelf are the property of the United States.4 The U.S. has shown that it can successfully defend its rights and claims through bilateral negotiations and in multi- lateral venues, such as through the Arctic Ocean Conference, which met in Greenland in May 2008.
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Russian Militarization of the Arctic. The mili- tary is an important dimension of Moscow’s Arctic push. The policy calls for creating “general purpose military formations drawn from the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation” as well as “other troops and military formations [most importantly, border units] in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, capable of ensuring security under various military and political circumstances.”28 These formations will be drawn from the armed forces and from the “power ministries” (e.g., the Federal Security Service, Border Guard Service, and Internal Ministry). Above all, the policy calls for a coast guard to patrol Russia’s Arctic waters and estuaries.
Russia views the High North as a major staging area for a potential nuclear confrontation with the United States and has steadily expanded its military presence in the Arctic since 2007. This has included resuming air patrols over the Arctic, including stra- tegic bomber flights.29 During 2007 alone, Russian bombers penetrated Alaska’s 12-mile air defense zone 18 times.30
The Russian Navy is expanding its presence in the Arctic for the first time since the end of the Cold War, increasing the operational radius of the North- ern Fleet’s submarines. Russia is also reorienting its military strategy to meet threats to the country’s interests in the Arctic, particularly with regard to its continental shelf.31
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In 2008, for the first time in 17 years, the U.S. Minerals Management Service began selling oil and gas leases for drilling rights in the Outer Continental Shelf to meet escalating energy demand.58 U.S. and interna- tional corporations are flocking to the High North. Arctic development is generating considerable revenue for the U.S. government. British Petroleum is pursuing the Lib- erty Development Project, a drilling project in the OCS. In February 2008, Royal Dutch Shell paid $2.1 billion for 275 lease blocks in the Chukchi Sea Lease Sale 193. A total of seven companies partici- pated in the Chukchi Sea lease sale, which spans an area covering 5,354 blocks.59 In October 2009, the Interior Department approved two leases to Shell for exploration in the Beaufort Sea,60 conditioned on meeting strict environmental standards.61