Kremlin and U.S. Circle Each Other in Warming Arctic

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Bottom Line: The potential of economic development in the Arctic for a financially strapped Russia has increased the Kremlin’s attention to the security of its northern waters. The result is a push to bolster its military presence in the region. But against a backdrop of increasing geopolitical tensions between Russia and the West, Moscow’s objectives and tactics, portrayed as merely defensive, increasingly stir concern among the U.S. and its NATO allies. They worry that Russia is seeking to control what could soon become a prominent maritime trade route.

Background: Arctic warming and the melting of sea ice has increased shipping through the Northern Sea Route that runs along Russia’s Arctic coast. But fears of competition over resources, such as the region’s vast undiscovered hydrocarbon reserves, appears to be driving much of Russia’s push for control.

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