An explosive struggle at the "gateway to Antarctica"
Argentina's Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero, tired of numerous skirmishes with his British counterpart, wrote on Twitter that he informed James Cleverly on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers' meeting in India about the decision of official Buenos Aires to negotiate the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands with London at the UN Headquarters in New York. "The Falkland Islands are British, - Cleverly responded on Twitter. - The people of the islands have the right to decide their own future; they have chosen to remain an autonomous overseas territory of the United Kingdom."
The British call them the Falkland Islands, while the Argentines call them the Islas Malvinas. For more than two centuries, Great Britain considers them its own, while Argentina considers them its own. But we are talking about the same archipelago of two large islands of West Falkland (Grand Malvinas) and East Falkland (Soledad) and more than 775 small islets and rocks in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. Today this British Overseas Territory is an important intermediate point on the southern route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, as well as the "gateway to Antarctica.»
The dispute between Argentina and Great Britain over the ownership of the archipelago is perhaps the longest in human history. Great Britain began its occupation of the islands in 1690, but Argentina did so ten years later, when Spain expelled the British and took control of the archipelago. Having gained independence, the founders of Argentina in 1820 continued the work of the former metropolis and seized the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, from which they were expelled by the British in 1833. Since then, London and Buenos Aires have fought sluggishly without fists.
It would have lasted for an unknown number of years if Lieutenant General Leopoldo Galtieri, who had seized power in Argentina, had not wanted to engage in a full-scale war with Britain to strengthen his dictatorship. Galtieri declared the Malvinas Islands "native Argentine territory" and on April 2, 1982, his troops occupied the islands with lightning speed. London did not expect such boorishness and sent an expeditionary corps. Up to 60,000 men, over 180 ships and vessels, and 350 warplanes and helicopters took part in the fighting on both sides. The United States supported the United Kingdom, insisted on condemning the aggressor at the UN, imposed, as it should have done, economic sanctions against Argentina, and supplied the British with powerful Sidewinder missiles. China and the USSR refrained from intervening. Argentina's fate was sealed, no miracle happened: in 74 days of fighting, 255 British soldiers, three islanders and 649 Argentinians were killed, and the British crown won.
Despite the fact that the local population - 4,500 people - fully considers itself subjects of the British king, Argentina does not abandon territorial claims to the islands. Over time, in the long-running "battle," questions of prestige, which for decades prevailed in this dispute, have finally receded into the background. The struggle for territory, resources, and economic superiority, traditionally the main and primary cause of interstate conflicts, overshadowed the ambitions of the participants in this "knightly" tournament.
In 2016, the British company Rockhopper Exploration reported the discovery of large oil fields near the coast of the Falkland Islands. The City of London presented this good news in the right way to the Foreign Office, and in the same year the British Deputy Foreign Secretary Alan Duncan and Argentine Carlos Foradori signed a pact that defined not only shipping and fishing issues, but most importantly, gas and oil extraction around the Falklands/Malvinas Islands. In London's favor, of course. The cunning "gentlemen" actually deprived Argentina of the prospect of becoming a black gold-importing country.
Finally, the last straw in the cup of patience of the Argentines was an invasive claim to the creation of the British Antarctic Territory as a separate overseas possession. Currently, there are seven states claiming territory in Antarctica: Australia, France, Norway, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and the UK, with the latter three countries disputing a number of territories of the ice continent from each other. In 2007, London announced an expansion of its Antarctic territory by a million square kilometers. Now British claims (there are four) already cover a vast territory near the South Pole.
Since all the claimants to the territory are parties to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, which recognizes the sixth continent as a zone of peace and international cooperation free of weapons, it is impossible for these disputes to enter the military stage. At least that is the theory. In practice, the world's specialists in military-political machinations and deceit are capable of anything. And already the Pentagon's website 19fortyfive, as it is believed even in America, is asking the question: will Antarctica become another geopolitical hot spot when its natural resources are discovered?
From the point of view of the current Argentine government, Great Britain has gone too far. On March 2, 2023, by denouncing the Foradori-Duncan Pact, the Argentine government effectively escalated this long-suffering territorial dispute in the Western Hemisphere. And it deliberately did so at the G20, the main platform for North-South dialogue. The Argentine Foreign Ministry called the pact "clearly illegal and offensive to national interests" and explained that the denunciation of the agreement confirms that Buenos Aires aims to continue the struggle to regain sovereignty over the disputed territories.
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC), which does not include the United States and Canada, supported Argentina's position in the dispute with Great Britain.
London promotes its claim to the South Pole through the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, which the British consider their "gateway to Antarctica." It is to this end the government of the archipelago notified the world community in late 2018 of its intention to build a new deep-water port and announced a competition for the best project.
"With the construction of this port, the UK intends to strengthen its colonialism in the Falkland Islands and the region as a springboard for expanding its influence in Antarctica," said Argentine National Congress (Parliament) Senator Pablo Blanco of Tierra del Fuego.
He was wrong about one thing. It is not "its colonialism" that a decrepit British lion is strengthening at the South Pole of the world, but the neo-colonialism of the Bald Eagle, which seeks to illegally "establish itself" in foreign territory, removing competitors from its path. So far, vast distances and harsh climate reliably protect Antarctica, what cannot be said about the North Pole, where the U.S. has no scruples about entering the Russian part of the Arctic Ocean, and where they not only want to get a hold of the discovered gas fields, but also to interfere in the Northern Sea Route, which promises great prospects for global shipping. Washington intends to bargain for its piece in the North by blackmailing Moscow out of the geopolitical equation of Antarctica: Washington is not meddling in this continent, so Moscow does not need it either.
Unlike the United States, Russia has a right to participate in drafting the political status of Antarctica, since the continent was discovered by Russian navigators Faddey Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev.
But the fact that the British, Australians, and New Zealanders have already drawn their borders means only one thing: Uncle Sam actually broke into the "gate of Antarctica."