Biden's new Arctic strategy foresees competition with Russia, China

The new US strategy says it seeks an Arctic region that is "peaceful, stable, prosperous, and cooperative". PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - The United States on Friday unveiled a new strategy for the Arctic that foresees increasing competition with Russia and China in the strategic US government presence in the Arctic region.

"We will exercise US government presence in the Arctic region as required to protect the American people and defend our sovereign territory." said a fact sheet on The United States' National Strategy for the Arctic Region released by the White House.

Russia has reopened hundreds of Soviet-era military sites in the region, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in August, adding that Russian capabilities there pose a strategic challenge to the 30-nation alliance.

China, which describes itself as a "near-Arctic" state, also has ambitions in the region and has said it intended to build a "Polar Silk Road".

China has its eye on mineral resources and new shipping routes as ice caps recede with rising temperatures.

The new US strategy, an update of its 2013 predecessor, says the US seeks an Arctic region that is "peaceful, stable, prosperous, and cooperative".

The new strategy articulates an affirmative US agenda over the next 10 years to realize that vision, the fact sheet said.

It addresses climate change with greater urgency and directs new investments in sustainable development to improve livelihoods for Arctic residents, while conserving the environment.

The Arctic-home to more than four million people, extensive natural resources, and unique ecosystems-is undergoing a dramatic transformation.

"Driven by climate change, this transformation will challenge livelihoods in the Arctic while at the same time creating new economic opportunities," the fact sheet said.

The strategy "also accounts for increasing strategic competition in the Arctic, exacerbated by Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine and the People's Republic of China's increased efforts to garner influence in the region, and seeks to position the United States to both effectively compete and manage tensions", the White House said.

The White House said the US "will deter threats to the US homeland and our allies by enhancing the capabilities required to defend our interests in the Arctic, while coordinating shared approaches to security with allies and partners and mitigating risks of unintended escalation". REUTERS

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