Staunton, May 26 – When Donald Trump almost a year ago proposed to buy Greenland from Copenhagen, many in the US, Denmark, and Greenland laughed dismissively. But there were increasingly important economic and security concerns that his words highlighted, according to Moscow military analyst Ivan Malevich.
In a new article for Moscow’s influential Voenno-Promyshlenny Kuryer, he says that global warming has made the Arctic’s natural wealth ever more accessible and Moscow’s projection of power there has made American desires to counter it ever more significant (vpk-news.ru/articles/57110).
And Malevich quotes with approval the observation of Vladimir Vasilyev of the Moscow Institute for the US and Canada that Trump’s remarks reflect the fact that “Greenland theoretically could be called the second Alaska for the US,” providing it with additional mineral wealth and the basis for far larger claims in the region.
Moreover, the Moscow analysts say, the United States has a long history of expanding its territory either by direct purchase such as most famously by the Louisiana Purchase or by economic expansion, followed by the growth of political influence and when possible absorption into the sovereign territory of the US.
Denmark’s dismissive response to Trump’s proposal has not slowed the Americans, Malevich continues. They have set up a consulate general and began a program of massive assistance designed to get Greenlanders to learn English and orient themselves toward American interests rather than Danish ones, even if formally Greenland remains Danish.
According to the VPK writer, such a move could ultimately allow the US to claim control over oil and gas resources in the Arctic equal to those belonging to the Russian Federation. But the immediate cause behind Trump’s words was the growing role of China in the North and Washington’s interest in countering its rising power.
From Moscow’s perspective, the extent to which Trump has infuriated Denmark and the EU by his incautious words will play to Russia’s advantage; and his decision to challenge not only Europe but Russia and China at the same time will leave the US isolated rather than allowing it make any serious advance.
(For a larger discussion of this issue, see the current author’s “Russia Expects Growing Conflict with US over Greenland,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, 17:70 (May 19, 2020) at jamestown.org/program/russia-expects-growing-conflict-with-us-over-greenland/