The desire to access the Arctic's vast mineral reserves has always been a major driver of international attention towards the region. The Arctic is believed to contain 1,699 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and various other fuels, equal to the entirety of Russia’s oil reserves and three times those of the US (U.S Geological Survey, 2008). On top of this, by 2050, it is believed that the region above the Polar Circle may be completely ice-free, considering the rate at which the ice sheet is shrinking and the multiplier effect of warming seas and surface temperatures (La Rocca, 2022). This potential development could further increase the international race for Arctic raw materials.
The issue of climate change is renowned for its global implications, not only on the environment but also on humans. Nevertheless, one of the shifts least touched upon is how the melting of the Arctic ice is changing the geopolitical theatre. All the major international actors are aware of this and have already developed policies to exploit or adapt to this shift. In this context, we witness bids from countries’ representatives and military exercises in the region.
Russia is displaying an unprecedented military might in the Arctic region by testing its newest nuclear torpedo in a region currently freed from ice due to climate change. This is part of a chain of actions to secure its northern coast as the Arctic terrain is becoming a key issue for security, especially for Russia and the United States.