The Russian Arctic, Energy and a Massive Power Shift

A major world power shift is happening in the Arctic. It is due to new massive oil and gas discoveries, combined with the effects of climate change. In effect, on 28 September 2014, Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft, the Russian mammoth oil company, announced the discovery of a giant oil field in the Kara Sea, north of Siberia (Zero Hedge, “Russia discovers massive Arctic oil field which maybe larger than the Gulf of Mexico“, 28 September, 2014). According to the first commentaries, this sub-sea structure called Universitetskaya, potentially, could contain reserves of oil and gas equal or superior to the Gulf of Mexico. As Igor Sechin declared, quoted by Bloomberg (Arkhipov, Chierman and Chilcote, “Russia says Arctic well drilled with Exxon Mobil …

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The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 170 – China Sees Possibility for World War 3

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… Read the 18 September scan → The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. It was started as an experiment with Paper.li as a way to collect ideas, notably through Twitter. Its success and …

Arctic Fusion: Russia and China Convergent Strategies

Is the Arctic becoming a Sino-Russian lake? The question must be asked, because of the way these two Eurasian giants are gaining a massive and coordinated influence in the whole Arctic region, taking advantage of the geophysical changes caused by global warming (NASA, Global climate change). For example, following the historic $ 400 billion deal between Russia’s Gazprom and China, through which Russia will supply China with oil and gas for thirty years, it was announced that companies of the two countries were looking forward to explore and develop the Russian Far East, which is part, or is very close to the Arctic and subarctic region (Ding Ying, A Gas bond, energy cooperation will serve as a new link between …

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Arctic China (2) – The Chinese Shaping of the North

Over the last few years China has been multiplying commercial and political relationships with Arctic countries. Reciprocally, these countries have been deepening their Chinese bonds. For example, on 24 April 2014, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark paid a state visit to China, and was received by President Xi Jinping (Global Times, “China, Denmark eye closer relationship“, 2014-4-25). During this visit, a ceremony was held over the signature of several agreements, “involving maritime technology, energy conservation, and poverty elimination among other fields.” (Global Times, ibid). These new political and economic ties between Beijing and Copenhagen are being developed alongside new relations between China and Greenland (Viviane du Castel et Paulo Brito, Groenland, entre independence et recuperation géostratégique?, 2014), which, today, is partly autonomous …

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Arctic China (1) – The Dragon and the Vikings

On 15 March 2013, China and Iceland signed a bilateral free trade agreement (Ministry for foreign affairs, Iceland). This agreement was signed three months before the Republic of China became a “permanent observer”of the Arctic Stephen Blank, “China’s Arctic strategy“, The Diplomat, 20 June 2013), while the “Snow Dragon”, the first Chinese icebreaker, has already made five trips in the Arctic, in 1999, 2003, 2008, 2010 and 2012, at which occasion it sailed the Northern Sea Route. This political and economic move by Beijing reveals a deep evolution of the grand strategy of the People’s Republic of China, as well as the shifting balance of power in the north-Atlantic region and in the Arctic. Over the last twenty-five years, with a …

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The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 148 – A strange bipolar world?

Editorial – A strange bipolar world? – As previously suggested (see the Weekly 142, 143 & 145), the crisis in Ukraine seems to be accelerating some of the profound transformations that are globally at work, as consequences spread to Asia, and as doubts are being cast about the U.S. real commitment to, interest or capabilities in the region. Yet, and interestingly, the rhetoric against Russia from “the West” is strong and quite unanimously spread across (Western) media. As other noteworthy changes happen according to their own specific domestic and regional dynamics, such as the possibility to see Israel forging new ties with Arab states, we may wonder if the return to a Cold War type of discourse is not actually participating in the acceleration of change. In other words, …

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The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 145 – Risks on the US Dollar Supremacy?

Editorial – Risks on the US Dollar Supremacy? Among the flurry of articles part of the violent “battle for hearts and minds” regarding Ukraine and opposing directly Russia on the one hand,  the U.S and Europe on the other, continues emerging, quite loudly this week, an interrogation regarding the international order, this time in its monetary guise. Put bluntly, the question is as follows: “Are we seeing the beginning of the end of the US dollar based international monetary order?” The question is related to oil because of the importance of petrodollars. We may thus wonder if a potential U.S. strategy, assuming it could work (read Steve LeVine article “How the US might persuade the Saudis to co-conspire in unleashing an oil …

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The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 143, Towards a 19th Century Order?

Editorial – Towards the 19th century or a darker, more remote past? (Nota: The map above depicts a 1903 vision of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea in 1190) Last week we underlined that we should be looking beyond the current Ukraine crisis and estimate what it may mean in terms of changing the world order. This week we find a string of signals that continue pointing in this direction, including weak data of growth for the US that would be the new norm, questioning the supremacy of the US Dollar, and consequences for American power, on all fronts. while tension over Ukraine and Crimea does not abate. Meanwhile, the Middle East is in the throes of transition with even more tension, and …

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The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 142 – Beyond Ukraine, towards Change in the World Order?

Editorial – Beyond Ukraine, towards change in the world order? What if behind the tension in Ukraine and Crimea there was something more and larger at stake? What if it were not just one more serious international crisis, but also a moment when some underlying dynamics that were so far only hardly perceptible, or still in the making were crystallized and becoming quite obvious? It is most likely that it is indeed what is happening as underlined, for example, by Ivan Krastev in his article in Foreign Affairs, when he writes: “Russia’s aggression in Ukraine should not be understood as an opportunistic power grab. Rather, it is an attempt to politically, culturally, and militarily resist the West. Russia resorted to military …

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Arctic Warming and Eurasian Grand Strategies

In May 2013, several Asian countries obtained the status of “permanent observer” at the Arctic Council, the body that gathers the eight countries bordering the Arctic. These new “observers” are China, India, South Korea, Singapore, and Japan (Russia Today, Northern exposure, May 15, 2013). This rush of Asian (some of them tropical and equatorial) countries to the Arctic is one of the most important dimensions of the current global race to the Arctic region (see Valantin, “Arctic, the New great game”), triggered by the combination of the rapid warming of the North and the global competition for natural resources (Klare, The Race for what’s left, 2013). The new grand strategies ruling over this race to the Arctic, which combine national …

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