Energy markets are in a state of flux; oil and gas prices are unpredictable; onshore reserves are gradually shrinking; some forecast that by 2015 almost 40% of global oil and gas will be produced offshore. Moreover, most of the Arctic receding ice is taking place in Russia’s territorial waters. The legendary Northern Sea Route may be opened to commercial shipping in 2025-2030.
These data explain Russia’s interest in exploring the Arctic hydrocarbon wealth and the claim, reaffirmed during the August 2007 Polar expedition, to extend its sovereign rights beyond the 200 mile-rule regulating its exclusive economic zone.
Russia’s interests however are not only energy driven. They also entail a strategic and security dimension and have consequently provoked a profound revision of the other coastal states’ regional policies. NATO too has recently adopted a firm stance over the access and control of the concerned area calling for a larger military presence there.
Generally speaking, the West seems worried about Russia’s unilateral advancement in the Arctic but is that uneasiness justified or is it just another nuance of its resurgence as a great power?