Wikileaks reveals Arctic could be the new cold war

Posted by jamess — 12 May 2011 at 3:35pm - Comments
The Arctic resource scramble is sparking military tension
All rights reserved. Credit: Nick Cobbing/Greenpeace
The Arctic resource scramble is sparking military tension

UPDATE: Watch BBC Newsnight's feature on the Wikileaks Arctic files

Submarine explorers planting Russian flags under the North Pole. Military tension between Nato and Russia. US diplomats manoeuvring in the wings. Aircraft carriers lurking and strike fighters changing hands.

Sound like something from a James Bond plot? Unfortunately it’s not.

New Wikileaks releases today have shown the Arctic oil rush is not just a threat to the environment and our climate, but also to peace.

The documents show how deadly serious the scramble for Arctic resources has become.

And the terrible irony of it is that instead of seeing the melting of the Arctic ice cap as a spur to action on climate change, the leaders of the Arctic nations are instead investing in military hardware to fight for the oil beneath it. They’re preparing to fight to extract the very fossil fuels that caused the melting in the first place. It’s like putting out fire with petrol.

Here are some of the main points from the leaked cables but stay tuned - there are more to come.

Increased military threats

The Arctic oil rush risks instability and conflict. In one of the cables, US diplomats refer to “the potential of increased military threats in the Arctic”.

Russian Ambassador to Nato is quoted as saying “The twenty-first century will see a fight for resources, and Russia should not be defeated in this fight… Nato has sense where the wind comes from. It comes from the North.”

In April 2008, Russian Navy head and Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said “While in the Arctic there is peace and stability, however, one cannot exclude that in the future there will be a redistribution of power, up to armed intervention.”

Russian flag planting is Putin party’s idea

Russia is manoeuvring to claim ownership over huge swathes of the Arctic, as a senior Moscow source reveals that a Russian explorer’s famous expedition to plant a flag on the seabed was ordered by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

Lobbying for the Greenlanders

The US is going to great lengths to cosy up to Greenland, amid concerns over Chinese influence. One cable said: “Our intensified outreach to the Greenlanders will encourage them to resist any false choice between the United States and Europe. It will also strengthen our relationship with Greenland vis-à-vis the Chinese, who have shown increasing interest in Greenland’s natural resource.”

Another cable says “with Greenlandic independence glinting on the horizon, the U.S. has a unique opportunity to shape the circumstances to which an independent nation may emerge. We have real security and growing economic interests in Greenland, for which existing mechanisms may no longer be sufficient. American commercial investments, our continuing strategic military presence, and new high-level scientific and political interest in Greenland argue for establishing a small and seasonal American Presence Post in Greenland’s capital as soon as practicable.”

Tensions in Nato

Canadian leaders are uneasy over Nato plans to project military force in the Arctic in the face of perceived Russian aggression. Steven Harper, Canadian PM is quoted as saying that a Nato presence in the region would give non-Arctic members too much influence in an area where “they don’t belong”.

Justifying military spending

The Norwegian foreign minister thanked his Russian counterpart Lavrov “for making it so much easier to justify the Joint Strike Fighter purchase to the Norwegian public, given Russia’s regular military flights up and down Norway’s coast.”

The ‘benefits’ from global warming

Another cable states that “behind Russia’s (Arctic) policy are two potential benefits accruing from global warming: the prospect for an (even-seasonally) ice-free shipping route from Europe to Asia, and the estimated oil and gas wealth hidden beneath the Arctic sea floor.”

Stay out and miss out

Danish foreign minister Moeller is reported saying to US diplomats that “if you stay out” [of a key maritime convention] “then the rest of us will have more to carve up in the Arctic.”

They go on to report that “Moeller also mused that the new shipping routes [open because of ice melt] and natural resource discoveries would eventually place the region at the centre of world politics”

The cables were published today at on the website


BBC Newsnight on the Wikileaks Arctic cables

If you're in the UK, you can watch the programme on BBC iPlayer. Otherwise you can click play on the video below (the picture clears up after a few seconds):



Read more on Arctic drilling and oil:

If the ice melt persists at its current rate why should the Arctic be
opened to shipping lanes and contribute to the global economy? We ought
to let the Inuit continue to have claim over it and continue doing with
it what they've done with it for over 1,000 years: fish.

for more info please visit:

To say the world is mad is a gross understatement. Sane people are trapped in the asylum whilst the lunatics run amok.

It makes me sad that money, land and power take over everything no matter what. Oil is big money and the governments don't care who or what gets hurt or suffers!

It's a sad time in our planets history when chasing oil is seen as acceptable for the world leaders, even when they have no right to be in those parts of our worldt and it puts the whole world a risk for generations not just in the short time.

Anyone else think the kids (i.e leaders) in world politics need to grow up and see the bigger picture

Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned and
the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money

I was completely unaware that Russia was looking to drill in the Artic and extract the resources there. But it makes sense that companies and countries will try to get an advantage</a> for themselves without considering all the consequences.


This is old news. No one had to read the leaked cables to figure out everyones intentions. Russia has a track record of blatantly not caring about ethics or the environment so why is this a surprise? (Americans and Europeans aren't much better) I dream of a world in which we use clean renewable sources of energy on Earth but unfortunately that doesn't look like it will happen any time soon. This sort of behavior is definitely insane but it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone.


The Antarctic Example...

It is only the poor people that care about the world (with a very few exceptions). All the others are selfishly busy chasing money. 

stop risking our life!

save arctic and save cold war.

save world from cold war by saving arctic.

thanks wikileaks.

Money is the root of all evil. Human greed leaves no one and politicians have no ears for the silence of Arctics. Its time we show the white collars, who put them there in the first place.

I am horrified how the ambition could do to this planet.

 I hope we stop it all toguether before the end of the north pole.


Il nostro pianeta sta andando in rovina, colpa dei politici che non fanno nulla per fermare gli affaristi petrolieri  la malavita e da tutti coloro che hanno e stanno disboscando molte foreste, la natura un giorno si ribellera' allora sara' troppo tardi per i ripensamenti.

It is truly unfortunate that world leaders are more fixated on satiating the hunger for oil and oil revenues rather than promoting more sustainable lifestyles. Instead of getting angry at the powers that be, why don't *WE* do something about it? Ditch those SUVs, and if personal vehicles are truly necessary in our lives, replace them with gas-efficient cars. Get some exercise and walk whenever you can - my husband and I can get the equivalent of a car-load of groceries between us using backpacks, a bundle buggy and canvas bags. With our car-free lifestyle we save a LOT of money, not to mention the environment: 1. the up-front cost of buying a car 2. not paying insurance every month 3. not paying for gas at the pumps 4. not paying for repairs/oil changes/etc. 5. not paying for parking

If we all consumed less gas, there will be less of a need for drilling and digging for it. Look at it using the marketing supply/demand curve: if the product is less needed or desirable, its cost will drop, and there will be less of a push to produce that product.

Exploiting these new resources will not make much difference to energy crisis that is looming. (See below for why.) Therefore no government should allow this happen. It is simply unacceptable and far too dangerous a project, locally for the men and wildlife locally, and for the wider global climate problems that burning fossil fuels causes.

The oil crisis is one of scarcity due to increased demand driven by population growth and rapid economic development in mainly China and India. To put it in an analogous form: imagine I had a bottle of liquid energy that bacteria used to grow and replace. Imagine the bacteria doubled in size every minute and we knew it took them 1 hour to fill the bottle, i.e. use up the energy. If I started the growth at 11.00am half of the energy liquid would be used by 11.59, for most of the bacterias history they would have no idea there was ever any scarcity. Only in their final seconds would they reach out for new bottles. Let's say that they found three more bottles. They would be used up very quickly. At 12.00 the first bottle is full. At 12.01 the second and third bottles are used. At 12.02 the third bottle is finished.

This analogy shows that despite new finds in the arctic humans cannot avoid quickly using up new resources. Where did North Sea oil go? Or American oil? Why do the oil companies drill ever deeper in the most dangerous hurricane swept area on earth? Why do Canadians use shale oil when it is so expensive to produce (taking more energy than it releases)? At 7% consumption rate (what the US did for many years up to the 1970s) even if our planet is made of oil its all gone in 342 years. But the fact is we don't have anything like that. Using all the statistics I have I've worked out that at just 1% consumption per year oil is all used up by 2046 and new arctic finds won't postpone its loss, simply because by then there will be over 8 billion people. Global population is doubling every 61 years. New oil won't last long in face of that. It will all be gone in a matter of a year, or less. So by mid-century we have a problem.

Oil companies are finding that drilling deeper is simply not going to be profitable. Back in the 1920s it took 1 barrel of oil to extract 100, by 1970 this was at 25, now its just over 1. No-one is going to take losses. When something costs more to extract than it sells at because energy remember is the only true wealth (money is a creation of access to energy) it is not going to be profitable.

The current global population of 7 billion only exist now because of oil (80% of food is based on oil; iron, coal, gas and materials - from clothing to building, 99% transport, naval transport and medicine all have their basis in oil). By 2030 we'll need 40% of another type of energy to fill the gap that we cannot sustain due to economic growth. No viable alternatives to oil have been found. Oil unlike substitutes is a primary fuel, compact, high energy density, and portable. Nothing is as useful as oil.

We will either reduce our global population and economic growth or Nature the dicator will do it for us, brutally and without mercy. Food shortages leading to famines due to the loss of arable land and the lack of pesticides and fertilizers will do for the most. Even the food we can grow will not be able to get to the shops. Oil will be of course rationed, but eventually it will be finished. However it happens, one can predict that economic and political turmoil must ensue.

Over 75% of all jobs can be mechanized (automated). This is happening each year. More people are losing their jobs than ever before because of mechanization. At the same time companies are taking their Headquarter away from the countries they operate in to avoid tax. Eventually with the oil crisis, mechanization itself will fail due to lack of energy to run the machines. But nowthe unskilled workers won't be able to replace the machines. Meanwhile due high unemploymentand and lack of tax, western governments will no longer be able to pay the benefit cheques. What will happen then?

We have seen that recessions are related to oil price hikes. When the oil price went from $40 to £147 in 2008, the credit crunch smashed our global economy. The governments solution was to print $23 trillion. Printing money pushed up global inflation. This undermined those nations that used dollars to buy food. But food wasn't plentiful. A series of droughts pushed up the price of food. Imagine what it will be like in 2050 when combined harvesters will be running on very expensive fuels. Then the food simply won't be grown. Nor will fertilizers be exported. Russia is already holding its grain supplies, making farmers return to subsistence farming as they see no profit without exports. The capitalist system will simply fail when the oil crisis hits because it is based on a single source of wealth: fossil fuel.

Going to to the Arctic will only exacerbate the climate change problem, destroy our planet even faster. We should be looking at population control in all countries. This should be our only concern.


The Arctic belongs to all of us. So, don't touch my right to live in a balanced nature !!!

Is money more important than our planet and animals?

 In the name of greed, I see there is more suffering to come to the wildlife and residents of these areas before it's over. Mankind is doomed if we countinue to eliminate those safe guards against climate change and global warming.

Some excellent commentary above about the reality of the internation situation we are in - but what can we do about it on our street?  We all know that most of the people we meet in the street, at work etc just do not see things this way - they have a powerful filter that blocks this kind of news - no matter how powerful the science is.  This is denial.  There are ways to overcome this denial, but they are not easy.  Many people who have reasonable inteligence know deep down that we are in trouble but the filter prevents them considering the thinking about it.  To communicate the issues and solutions you have to get past the filter - present an alternative view - something positive and fun.  I am not a PR guru but the best way I know is transition:

This presents an objective and rational approach to the problem and fun and positive way of engaging people in working on the solution.  It reaches out to both the heart and the head.

Whilst direct action has an important place in trying to save the good parts of our civilisation (if that is possible), the every-day domestic/neighbourhood activity is perhaps more important.  Presenting a workable (working!) alternative to eveyday lifestyles in the west is key to getting buy in to the concept that it is possible to be happy, healthy and contented with significantly reduced consumption of energy and resources.  Transition offers this.

Go and support/join your local transition group - and if there is not one - start one!




Does the human race ever learn?  This scramble for the Arctic's resources especially oil, is complete and utter madness.  Stop this greed and leave the Arctic alone!


Es increible e inconcebible que a estas alturas, en que vemnos como nos está afectando el calentamiento global, los señores del dinero estén pensando en como continuar saqueando y debastando a la tierra con todos sus recursos no renobables, sin importar a cuantos seres se lleven "entre las patas".

Es increible darnos cuenta de la inconciencia de algunos seres que debido a su voracidad no están considerando las letales consecuencias de sus acciones. No les importa la vida, no les importan los animales, no les importan los seres humanos.....De hecho, no respetan la vida y lo único que los mueve es su voracidas por el poder y l oque ello implica.

No se dan cuenta....¿realmente no se dan cuenta que están acabando con la vida misma? ¿No se han dado cuenta que la tierra, nuestra amada Madre Tierra es un ser vivo al que están aniquilando?.....Y nosotros,....¿lo vamos a permitir?.....

En nuestras manos esta salvar a nuestra Madre Tierra... en nuestras manos está salvarla y salvarnos....Realmente en nuestras manos esta el preservar la vida.


Es increible e inconcebible que a estas alturas, en que vemnos como nos está afectando el calentamiento global, los señores del dinero estén pensando en como continuar saqueando y debastando a la tierra con todos sus recursos no renobables, sin importar a cuantos seres se lleven "entre las patas".

Es increible darnos cuenta de la inconciencia de algunos seres que debido a su voracidad no están considerando las letales consecuencias de sus acciones. No les importa la vida, no les importan los animales, no les importan los seres humanos.....De hecho, no respetan la vida y lo único que los mueve es su voracidas por el poder y l oque ello implica.

No se dan cuenta....¿realmente no se dan cuenta que están acabando con la vida misma? ¿No se han dado cuenta que la tierra, nuestra amada Madre Tierra es un ser vivo al que están aniquilando?.....Y nosotros,....¿lo vamos a permitir?.....

En nuestras manos esta salvar a nuestra Madre Tierra... en nuestras manos está salvarla y salvarnos....Realmente en nuestras manos esta el preservar la vida.


The time for a new arc of Noach is coming soon.


Stop already with this aggression!!

When the Arctic will have melted, we won't be needing any resources, since there will be no one to use them....

Here we go again! Same old human greed and exploitation. Do we never learn from history? Hilary Clinton should be ashamed of herself. Instead of using her unique position to help stop this madness she's there exploiting it as well.

Whatever happened to tread lightly on the planet.

If I didn't know any better, I would almost think that:

a) The BBC thinks that maybe climate change exists

b) The BBC considers that said climate change is affecting our planet's environment

b) The BBC considers that governments can say one thing, but actually plan to do something else. Not ours of course, but perhaps Russian and American ones and a few others.

Surely, this cannot be right?


What can be said that hasn't been said already? There can be no doubt that what we feel as a human collective does not correspond to the views of those individuals in power. This is another instance of insanity and of course we must all respond. If we do nothing we are complicit - an even greater crime...

I guess the thing is to not become down troddren, of course we become down hearted when we discover such madness, but I am heartened by our shared commonallity, the shared thread of compassion and humility and down right common sense of the majority. I don't feel alone or that I am banging my head against a wall, isolated or disenfranchised, because I know people care deeply and passionately enough to act.

Just to live well, to maintain right values, remain morally and ethically grounded is a form of protest in itself. Remaining true to ourselves is vital in the the short term and the long run. Because when the scheming, money hungry, self-serving fools that rule finally and inevitably bring mother earth to the brink of destruction good people will be required to step up and save us all.....there may appear no hope at times, but appearances can often be deceptive.   

Having just watched the video I feel so annoyed that they can do this to such a lovely place but they don,t seem to mind that the earth as we know it will be gone forever in not so far away.I am 70 and have seen this planet go down and down. and all for money. LEAVE THE ARCTIC ALONE!


Hay que parar esto como sea. Los políticos no van a hacer nada, somos nosotros los ciudadanos, los que tenemos que dejar de consumir petroleo. Usar el transporte público es la opción. Yo lo hago y estoy segura de que me resulta más barato e incluso más cómodo (me libro de buscar aparcamiento, llevar el coche a limpiar, a revisar..) que si tuviera coche.

It's very disappointing to see how greedy the nations have become for oil. Evenhough president Obama talks about other green energy options his government is still driven towards the search for oil. Artic remains rich of sea life and a hub for sustainable weather system in the globe so such explorations would lead to more naturals disasters as we are witnessing today so such explorations and developements should be stopped or carried out in a way that is friendly to the enviornment and the species.

we all have to ask ourselves if we really need fuel gusseling automobiles i took my car to the scrap yard this week and got my bicycle out i refuse to pay the prices for fuel to make the rich richer and support there destruction of my planet my home you know if we dont use there products we can maybe slow the destruction also on another note we as people vote for these politicians who continue to spit in our faces and continue with there reckless greed we have a voice this is our home lets finally stand up for ourselves and say no more.....

If you asked anybody What is the most precious thing in your life? The vast majority would say their children/grandchildren/great grandchildren. Then why is it that so many people don't seem to care about the state of the planet they will leave for them? Act now use less waste less CARE MORE and take action against those that want everything now.

Planet Earth is our only home and it's high time we began treating it that way!

What was that saying?  yes, I remember -  something about  the gods making mad those they intend to destroy - yes, it seems to be about right I fear.    The possible destruction of the Arctic breaks my heart.   Reading others comments, from around the world, is the only glimmer of hope I feel, knowing I'm not alone and that others feel the same.  

Leave it alone!

Why do governments think that the world is theirs to destroy?????? The world is where we all live and we all have stakes in the future of this planet. We (the ordinary caring ) people outnumber them, why can't we stop them? We don't want our planet to be destroyed by the selfish, grabbing, arogant minority. The Arctic belongs to the natives of this region who have kept it pure for centuries and have not abused this environment. I despair of governments who do not have the integrity to see what they are spoiling.

Our mother earth is over-exploited and now she needs an immediate fix.Let's not forget she is our only home

May the lights in the land of plenty shine on the truth someday. Leonard Cohen.

  The last thing the world needs is nations in dispute over oil in an unspoilt wilderness like the Artic

The rate of rise in carbon dioxide levels is now accelerating (Husler AD et al, 2011). Yet a perverse free market is driving this violation of the Arctic wilderness to liberate remaining oil-based, sequesterd CO2. Is the potential sequel of a global, extinction event an inevitable consequence of our limited capacity for insight?


It doesn't take a scientist or an historian to tell us that we are once again at that boundary when we can add another nail in the environmental coffin.  Not on purpose but because we choose short to mid term gain rather than ere on the side of caution and future generations.  If only this generation of world leaders could do just that!  I fear we are the missing link between ape and civilised man; the latter quite possibly unobtainable due to ignorance and a lack of moral courage.  One small step for mankind is not enough. Obama, Cameron et al are yet again men of the political moment and not keepers of our future.  Apologies to all other wildlife and future generations, who hopefully wont learn by example.

Please Please  More than Think Again in all that is supposed to be Humane , What about the Planet and all the Wonderfull Animals that need the Home on The Ice .


Dont let Greed Drive this on


Jean Matthews

What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?

For 60 years or more scientists have been increasingly ringing alarm bells about the destruction of the environment. Nevertheless it looks as if mankind is hell bent on its own annihilation. But there are thinking people besides scientists who realise this and who should be brought on board to help influence mankind differently. The eminent English economist Lord Richard Layard writes in his book on "Happiness", published in 2007, that mankind has lost its reason for being on this earth and should look into its soul for true happiness, because the amassing of a large fortune or wealth as the ideal of life is pointless. The world economy should be drastically slowed down to allow time for such contemplation and has suggested that the governments of the world could achieve this by prohibiting any advertising/sales promotion etc. to 12 year olds and under, and that all visual advertising/sales promotiom aimed at adults, be no longer allowed as a justified business expense.

I would go one step further and that would be to prohibit any commercial flying over weekends, and all industrial production be limited to 5 days a week. This would have very beneficial results in less stressful lives, more time for sport, theatre, art, music, and a way to contemplate the more spiritual meaning of life. And most of all, the slowing down of this crazy rush to exhaust all the world's resources would really reduce the output of CO2 very significantly to the benefit of all.

I would also suggest that the Secretary General of the UN be approached to find a way to force a meeting of the Security Council to indict those countries in the world who produce and/or encourage their large conglomerates to market CO2 producing products, with the charge that they are seriously endangering the immediate peace which everyone on this earth is entitled to, and which is not just the privilege of the owners and shareholders of  big business.


We really to need think 7 generations ahead, as did the North American Indians, in order that there is a viable planet (home) for future generations; i.e. our children, grandchildren and so on.

Therefore, we need to put planet and people at the top of the agenda - not profit!

Who is brave enough to make the first move in economic circles?

Mad World ..... Donnie Darko !!!!!

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