(Voice of Russia, 16 April 2012) -- The daily Izvestiya reports that Russia's border service plans to establish 20 new Arctic border posts. The head of the Federal Security Service's (FSB) border service, Vladimir Pronichev, said the new posts are part of larger plans for the North Sea Route that include nine rescue centers for the Emergency Situations Minister and Ministry of Transportation. Pronichev said the government's program calls for 15-20 border guards to be stationed at each of the locations. Pronichev admitted "at first glance" there seems to be no need for border posts in the remote northern regions of Russia. But he said that in recent years there have been incidents when "foreign tourists" ventured into Russia's northern waters without permission and unprepared for the conditions there and needed rescue. He also said "scientific expeditions" carry out exploration there without official permission. Melting ice and technological improvements have opened new possibilities for developing hydrocarbon deposits in the Arctic, where some believe 25 percent of the world's oil and gas is located. The Izvestiya article also quotes "ice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems Konstantin Sivkov as saying the approximately 40 "radiolocation" posts set up during Soviet times were all destroyed in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Sivkov reminded that the 20 new border posts will have to monitor a 6,000-kilometer coastline, meaning "each border post will have to control some 300 kilometers" of coastline. Izvestiya reported the new border guards would have training not only in search and rescue, and presumably defending Russia's national borders, but also repair and maintenance of electrical stations, water systems, communications, computer systems for the new posts, and be able "to support" the landing and takeoff of planes.
Posted 16 April 2012; 10:26:12 AM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden via Eye on the Arctic, 16 April 2012) -- Swedish news agency TT reports that two thirds of the cranes that were observed earlier this month at Lake Hornborga in western Götaland in southern Sweden have finally moved on northwards. The sight of thousands of cranes at Lake Hornborga is usually a sign that spring has come. This year however, the lake was over-crowded with cranes, due to cold weather which prevented them from continuing on their journey north. Every April, birds and birdwatchers alike flock to the lake when migrating cranes returning north for the summer arrive on its shores. The cranes use the lake as a stop-over point where they rest and feed before flying on to northern Sweden and Finland.
Posted 16 April 2012; 10:21:05 AM. Permalink
(Eric Talmadge/AP via CTV, 16 April 2012) -- YOKOSUKA, Japan - To the world's military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts. By Arctic standards, the region is already buzzing with military activity, and experts believe that will increase significantly in the years ahead. Last month, Norway wrapped up one of the largest Arctic maneuvers ever -- Exercise Cold Response -- with 16,300 troops from 14 countries training on the ice for everything from high intensity warfare to terror threats. Attesting to the harsh conditions, five Norwegian troops were killed when their C-130 Hercules aircraft crashed near the summit of Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest mountain. The U.S., Canada and Denmark held major exercises two months ago, and in an unprecedented move, the military chiefs of the eight main Arctic powers -- Canada, the U.S., Russia, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland -- gathered at a Canadian military base last week to specifically discuss regional security issues. None of this means a shooting war is likely at the North Pole any time soon. But as the number of workers and ships increases in the High North to exploit oil and gas reserves, so will the need for policing, border patrols and -- if push comes to shove -- military muscle to enforce rival claims.
Posted 16 April 2012; 10:19:09 AM. Permalink
(Lisa Demer/Anchorage Daily News, 16 April 2012) -- Her father was a Point Hope whaling captain. Her mother taught her how to butcher the bowhead and care for the meat. The family depended on the sea and land for so much. Caroline Cannon's lifelong connection to the Arctic Ocean pushed her to become one of the state's most vocal opponents of offshore oil drilling. Now, just as Shell Oil is poised to drill exploration wells off Alaska's northern coast, her advocacy has won her a coveted environmental award. Cannon, an Inupiat mother of nine and grandmother of 26, is one of this year's winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, described as the world's biggest for grassroots environmentalists. Cannon and the other five winners from around the world were officially announced Monday. Each will receive $150,000. Cannon is the former president of the Native Village of Point Hope, the tribal council that has been involved in a number of lawsuits aimed at stopping oil exploration and drilling in the Arctic. She lost her spot on the village council in a close election last year but expects to get back on soon. Point Hope, a village of about 700 people, is 330 miles southwest of Barrow on a gravel spit that forms the western-most extension of the northwest Alaska coast. The village is one of the oldest continuously occupied Inupiat areas in Alaska, according to the state Division of Community and Regional Affairs. Cannon has spoken up against offshore drilling countless times. At a national tribal summit with President Barack Obama in 2009, she told him "we are not prepared for this." She has sat down with environmental leaders and with Shell. She's traded barbs with Pete Slaiby, Shell's vice president for Alaska operations, and didn't quiet down after he corrected some of her assertions in a letter to the editor. "When you have something you feel strongly about, there's no turning that light off," Cannon said in an interview. "Meaning it's stronger than me."
Posted 16 April 2012; 10:11:57 AM. Permalink