War in the Arctic?

arctictank062508.jpgRussia’s flag-planting stunt on the seabed of the Arctic Ocean appears to have only been the beginning. A rather shocking quote from Lt. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, who oversees Russia’s military training: “After several countries contested Russia’s rights for the resource-rich continental shelf in the Arctic, we have immediately started the revision of our combat training programs for military units that may be deployed in the Arctic in case of a potential conflict. (…) [modern] wars these days are won and lost well before they are launched.” So much for the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – Russia appears to be going back to its earlier hostile tone on its territorial claim, which Sergei Lavrov had agreed to soften back in May. CanWest reports that Shamanov has announced that Russia will extend the “operational radius” of its northern submarine fleet, a move which has experts quite worried. Surprisingly, there is still a dispute over whether or not to take Russia’s arctic games seriously. We would argue that yes, Moscow is not just working on symbolism here.