Tuesday, July 2, 2024

"Svalbard and geopolitics: A need for clarity"

From The Barents Observer, July 2:

The Norwegian government is silent about its geopolitical concerns relating to Svalbard. This silence has consequences. 

“Strengthen national control”

White papers on Svalbard are produced at regular intervals. The latest, presented by Norwegian Minister of Justice and Public Security Emilie Enger Mehl in Longyearbyen on May 31, was written in a new security policy context.

Beyond the war in Ukraine and increased rivalry between China and the US, Norway’s Arctic areas are also central to security relations between NATO and Russia. Svalbard is increasingly attracting attention from countries far beyond the Arctic Circle: India has an Arctic strategy, and both North Korea and Turkey have signed the Svalbard Treaty.

Svalbard is Norway’s crown jewel in the north, the archipelago that makes Norway a polar superpower, granting it access to the Arctic Ocean, together with Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Russia, and the USA....


If interested see this post and the links embedded therein:
"Top Russian legislators question Norwegian sovereignty over Svalbard"

I'm not entirely sure what the Russian play is here. It might be as straightforward as securing access to the Atlantic for Russia's Arctic-based submarines:

....Military speaking, Svalbard is of great strategical importance, located between the Barents-, Greenland-, and Norwegian Seas. The one controlling Svalbard is also likely to control the important gateway from the shallow Barents Sea to the deeper North Atlantic.

For Russia’s Northern Fleet, the so-called Bear Island Gap between mainland Norway and the archipelago’s southernmost island is key to conducting sea denial operations in and over the maritime areas further south, potentially threatening NATO’s transatlantic sea lines of communication.....

Russian Bastion Defence in relation to Norway and the Bear and GIUK Gaps. 
Source: Mikkola / RAND Europe report 
Hmmmm, I see that Alistair MacLean wrote both Ice Station Zebra which takes place on the Arctic drift ice and Bear Island which takes place on a boat off the coast of the island, thus forming a vector with the location of the cable break.

Or it might be a hankerin' for yummy crustaceans: 

Or, with the European return to coal against the backdrop of EU disunity, it might be a desire to restart the Norwegian coal mines and get the European Coal and Steel Community (originally France, Germany, Benelux) up and running again, this time with Russian membership and possible observer status for Norway.

With the Russians, who knows? More after the jump.....