Staunton, July 29 – Russia may not be able to build the ships it needs to carry out the programs laid out in its new naval doctrine, but there is one area where it can and will take action in the immediate future. It will seek final UN approval of its expansive claims in the Arctic, claims it has been pressing since 2015 and felt it was close to having approval in 2019.
For a discussion of this provision in the new naval doctrine, one not mentioned in earlier versions, see thebarentsobserver.com/ru/arktika/2022/08/moskva-predstavila-plan-dalneyshego-prodvizheniya-na-shelfe-arktiki. For background on its work toward UN recognition, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/04/moscow-close-to-un-recognition-that-its.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/12/moscow-says-un-commission-has-accepted.html).
On the one hand, the Russian push for UN recognition of its claims to an Arctic shelf extending far beyond its 200 km economic exclusion zone has been on hold for the last two years, first because of the coronavirus pandemic and then because of the Western response to Putin’s war in Ukraine and the isolation of Moscow on Arctic issues (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/03/putins-war-in-ukraine-kills-off-moscows.html).
But on the other, there are two worrisome issues such an effort raises: first, the UN commission that will rule on this matter does not have any US representation because Washington has not ratified the Law of the Sea treaty on which such delimitations depend; and, second, some in Moscow have suggested that Russia should act unilaterally if the UN doesn’t move (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/11/moscow-should-act-unilaterally-if-un.html).
Whether Russia will succeed at the UN or ignore that body and seek to back up its claims in the Arctic by its own actions remains unclear; but it is certain that any new push in this area will exacerbate east-west tensions in a region that has already become a hotbed (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/04/west-will-blink-in-arctic-because-of.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/03/putins-war-in-ukraine-puts-in-jeopardy.html).