The U.S. and its allies fear Russia's Northern Fleet because the next war could start over the Arctic.
While the attention of the world is still drawn to the hostilities in Ukraine, NATO strategists are already thinking that in case of further escalation of the conflict in Europe, they may be really threatened by what they call the "red hook" – the powerful Russian Northern Fleet. If it passes through the straits of Greenland, Iceland and England, the American east coast could be at risk of missile attack.
American strategists remembered that Russia has traditionally been the most powerful northern and arctic power, possessing a serious submarine fleet with nuclear weapons. And if climatic changes, in particular the melting of the polar ice, are taken into account, the appearance of the Russian fleet near the U.S. coast becomes a new reality.
Let's look at what the Arctic is today and why it is so important to countries that aspire to a globalist role in the world, including Russia itself.
As President Vladimir Putin said, the Arctic accounts for more than 10% of all investments of Russia. Scientists predict that by 2040 the Arctic Ocean will be significantly free of ice. And then the shipping route – the Northern Sea Route – running along the Arctic coast of Russia will make it possible to reduce the route between Europe and Asia by 40%. Just think: the distance vessels travel from Murmansk to the Japanese port of Yokohama via the Suez Canal is 12,840 nautical miles, and the Northern Sea Route is only 5,770. Can you imagine what enormous benefits this promises?
But the Americans consider Russia's claims to monopolize the Northern Sea Route to be unfounded. Russia is legally convinced that since it runs along its borders, it is exactly Russia's property. Of course, the Americans are against it, arguing that anyone can use it for both commercial and military purposes. Although in reality it is clear that they themselves would like to snatch a tidbit from the profitability of this route.
In addition, the Arctic is simply a natural treasure trove: 13% of the world's undiscovered oil reserves, 30% of its gas reserves, as well as uranium, rare earth minerals, and fisheries are concentrated there. Back in 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that the Arctic may hold 90 billion barrels of oil, 19 trillion cubic meters of gas and 44 billion barrels of gas condensate. The total value of this region's resources is trillions of dollars. So it is clear that the fight for the Arctic is a fight for the future. And it is obvious that whichever country owns it will make an economic breakthrough.
The growing confrontation between Russia-U.S.-NATO and the U.S.-China cannot now be considered without separating it from the struggle of these countries for the North. By accepting Finland and Sweden into NATO, the Americans hope to strengthen their capabilities in this region, but we should not forget that China also has ambitions, it is actively trying to create its "Polar Silk Road."
So, according to analysts, the next global collision can be expected precisely among the polar ice and polar bears.
"This region has become an arena of rivalry," Mike Pompeo said frankly in his time as U.S. Secretary of State.
Isn't this why the U.S. is actively fighting to get the northern countries of Finland and Sweden to join NATO? And this can safely be seen as an attempt to counteract the Arctic influence of Russia, which has naval bases and nuclear missiles in the High North. In addition, Russian nuclear submarines are based on the Kola Peninsula near Norway. Yes, some of Russia's armed forces are now engaged in the Ukrainian theater, but Russia retains the Northern Fleet, polar aviation, and nuclear-powered submarines.
And the climate changes we have already talked about above, such as melting ice, are making the Arctic more accessible not only for trade, but also for military purposes. The Arctic coastline of Russia exceeds 24,000 kilometers – a fifth of Russia. Extraction of minerals in this region provides one-third of Russia's GDP. All this makes NATO's military activity in the Arctic an extremely sensitive issue.
The U.S. began actively exploring the Arctic in 2018, adopting a number of programs, including the Arctic Roadmap. And at the same time they stated:
"Russia seeks to make the Arctic a fifth military district along with the four it already has."
By the way, after the U.S. adopted National Security Presidential Directive 66 in 2012, under which they began to claim the natural riches of the Arctic, Russia had to build up its military power there, although Russia demilitarized its north after the end of the Cold War. But in recent years, seeing the threats from the United States and NATO, Russia has built military bases, created the Arctic Military District, subordinated to the Northern Fleet, built an echelonized missile defense system, deployed radar surveillance over the northern latitudes and ensured security of the Northern Sea Route. And in 2021 the Russian Armed Forces held a large-scale exercise of the Northern Fleet.
There is now a powerful Russian force in this region: The Northern Fleet has 41 submarines, eight with ballistic missiles, and 38 surface ships (according to the open press). The ground units, which include Marines, have received equipment designed specifically for operation in the Far North: anti-aircraft systems and "Arctic" tanks. In addition, military airfields are being restored. The Americans are very far behind Russia in this, their armed forces are not ready to operate in the Far North. But that is for now.
Russia is the only country with a nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet; there are eight of them now, and three more ships are due to enter service in the near future. The U.S. has two icebreakers scheduled for launching in 2024-25, and the only obsolete one will be scrapped. Therefore, in its usual manner, they are trying to transfer the construction of icebreakers to confront Russia to Iceland, Norway and Canada.
But in addition to Russia, NATO is seriously concerned about China, which is actively trying to gain a foothold in the region. As part of its Polar Silk Road program, its transportation company COSCO plans to use the Northern Sea Route more often to deliver goods to Europe. The Chinese are actively buying ports from the Finns, building large icebreakers, opening research stations and even mines in Greenland. By the way, about Greenland: the Americans went even further, when President Trump offered to buy it from Denmark for $600 million a year. At the time, many people thought it was a joke of an exalted Trump, but I am sure that if the Danes had agreed, the Americans would have quickly declared Greenland the 51st state.
In addition, the Americans have sent additional warships and aircraft to the Arctic and increased the number of military exercises. Their NATO allies are also keeping up with them in this direction.
And it turns out that in addition to the confrontation between the U.S.-Russia-NATO in Europe and China-U.S. in Southeast Asia, the future conflict is clearly visible in the north. The Cold War may not become a figure of speech at all, moving to the northern expanses and becoming very hot.
Practically, by waging war against Russia from the territory of Ukraine and with the help of Ukrainian manpower in the European theater of military operations, the Americans and their NATO allies are beginning to prepare for a northern "second front" against Russia. How else to explain that Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark decided to merge their air forces? And now these small countries have more combat aircraft than the recognized military powers France and Britain.
Not so long ago, everything was regulated by the Arctic Council, which included: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. Now they are all members of NATO, and only Sweden is left, which Turkey is not letting in yet, but I am sure that after some time it will be persuaded to give its consent. Now that Russia's chairmanship of the AC is over, Norway has taken it over. So it is obvious whose side the Arctic Council will be on, from where Russia will be squeezed out by all means.
Nor should we forget that if U.S. and NATO ships obtain free passage in Russia's Arctic waters, this would give them access to the northern latitudes of Russia, from where, given the flight times of modern missiles, they could keep the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East at gunpoint, which of course cannot be allowed to happen.
So in light of the current aggravation of the situation in Ukraine, which has taught a lot, Russia has no choice but to increase its presence in the northern territories, increasing the power of the Northern Fleet to knock it out with a "red hook" at any time.