For decades, scientists have warned about rising sea levels due to melting ice at the poles as a result of global warming. This naturally caught the attention of many people, who quickly politicized the issue on partisan lines in the US, where “pro” and “anti” factions on the “left” and “right” defined the two sides. The political left adopted an open malthusian perspective on it, that it was the result of ‘greenhouse gases’, and as a result the human race had to stop or modify her activities, including the act of living itself in some cases, to present it. This was opposed by the political right, which people (incorrectly) interpreted as being against malthusianism.
But what if not the reasoning and the justification for the warming, but the act of warming itself was real? Moreso, what if it was not caused by “greenhouse gases” or human living, but because of human activity that wants the icy nordic regions to warm up for causes arguably in favor of the political right, but also the political left, as it has nothing to do with “mother nature” and the environment, but the struggle for power between the US and Russia? Moreso, what if it is not even the US who is behind a lot of this warming, but in fact the Russians and the Chinese?
To understand the significance of this, one needs to look at the field of military sea power, which for the last century and arguably the last 200 years, the world’s oceans have been controlled by the Americans, British, and French, in that order. The US is an extension of the UK, and her strength as a sea power build on that, and the French are still the second strongest navy in the world today after the US and regularly use their navy to assert their own policies, often with US naval support. Notable “second tier” navies- not to say they are not powerful, but have less ‘global power’ today than the other three are the Dutch, Germans, Portuguese, Spanish, and even the Italians, as all of these nations also have long histories of naval military success or global seafaring empires.
Then there is Russia.
It is true that Russia is a really big nation, and that she has boats and will sail around the world. But Russia utterly lacks naval power in comparison to the above mentioned countries. This is largely a question of geography, population density and distribution, and naval access.
The reason why Russia is as large as she is simply is not because Siberia was always “Russian”. One could easily make a strong argument that Siberia belongs to the Turkic peoples than to the Russians, but the process of seizing it began around 1550 as a part of policy under Ivan the Terrible to assert Russia as a major power by first stopping the constant attacks by the Turkic tribes from Central Asia, for as history shows, until the last few centuries, most major empires formed in Central Asia and spilled out onto the rest of the world. Russia’s location and that she is a low-lying plain made her easily overran numerous times. It is not an accident that a look at many ancient empires stretch from Ukraine and even parts of Belarus all the way to Korea, or that the European man came from the mountains of Afghanistan and the Caucasus after which he migrated west, because the geography permits such a simple movement of people across the steppes.
Russia’s first, and still major problem, is to keep the Turkic peoples under control, to create the idea of a unified “Russian nationality” but not “Russian” identity so as to prevent ethnic division. This has become much harder because as I and many others have noted, Russia’s utterly and practically non-existent economy save for state-run enterprises and private companies run by foreign or non-Russian groups (such at Tartars Bashkirs, or ethnic Germans), completely broken family structure, miserable wages, obliterated healthcare system, rotting infrastructure, rapidly falling population and birth rates, skyrocketing rates of diseases and illnesses of all kinds, and mass emigration of ethnic Russians combined with mass migration from Central Asia has made it much harder for Russia to hold her nation together, as the pressure increasingly comes from Moscow to force a union between increasingly divided entities.
If this was not hard enough, Russia’s other problem is her ports. She has arguable year round sea access to the world through three areas- Murmansk, the “Black Sea ports” (Odessa, Kertch, etc.), and Vladivostok. The key to note here is “year round” since she has access to other ports such as Magadan and Anadyr, but those ports freeze up outside of select months and are otherwise useless in a consistent military sense. The above three accessible ports while limited and far from each other or being able to sufficiently cover the nation, also are respectively surrounded or very close to major historical enemies of Russia such as Scandinavia (Sweden, Finland, and Norway), Turkey (Russia cannot get to the Mediterranean by sea without passing through the Bosporus), and Japan (Russia must go into the sea of Japan and either circumnavigate Hokkaido or Kyushu). This is fine in peacetime, but because of the historical fighting Russia has with these nations, in wartime, none of them will naturally want Russian ships near them, and will see to stopping them.
This is why Russia has no real useful navy like other nations. She’s stuck in a hard place, with different priorities and needs. However, because of this, she is at a certain weakness to other nations.
However, there is one area that Russia has which is uniquely hers, and that is her portion of the Arctic Circle, which is about half of the region and the frozen ocean region that surrounds it as an ice cap.
A lot of people have been paying attention to the “Belt and Road Initiative” Russia has been advertising with China. I have said that this is a silly, largely nonsense project that is more for show and Chinese fantasy than reality, for not only are the US/NATO, Turkey, and Germany working with India and other nations to build massive railways into Central Asia and to the Far East as part of a new Silk Road in a more practical, universally standardized, and efficient manner than anything that Russia has (which operates on an outdated Soviet standard and is rotting), but also that Russia does not trust China at all and is doing all she can to keep her out of Siberia, as that is where Russia’s power comes from and China could conquer it by population transfer due to size differences.
Instead, one of the trends I have emphasized is to pay attention to the Arctic, as this is truly “Russia’s playground” and she could genuinely make something here that could be of real use to her. The US military is also aware of this, as such is the reason why there has been a heavy emphasis in NATO and the US on wargames in Scandinavia and the Arctic circle, since in a coming global conflict, it is likely that one of the theaters will be the Arctic circle.
Russia historically uses the cold weather to her advantage as a part of her autarchal strategy. As such, consider from a Russian military strategy point that if Russia was to build a route from, say, Murmansk to Anadyr, she would not only be able to assert near complete control over the North Pole, and while still would need to pass through the Bering Strait from the Chuchki Sea to get to the Far East, would give her a lot more access than what she has right now, would help Russia assert herself as a global naval power, and would give her a clearer seaward passage around Scandinavia than she currently has, and may even allow in the future for her to seize Svalbard from the Norwegians.
The only problem that Russia has is that the area is frozen. So what is the answer? Simple- break the ice up, make stronger boats to continually break the ice when it attempts to freeze, and generally warm the area up.
Is it an accident that Russia has been re-starting, modernizing, and building nuclear plants in the Arctic region, which are for all practical purposes massive heat generating devices? Is it an accident that Siberia is having unprecedented warm weather? Is it an accident that Russia is building brand-new ice-breaking boats? You be the judge, but all of this suggests Russia WANTS the Arctic to warm up because a warmer Arctic and melting ice, along with better ice breaking tools means creating friendlier conditions for seaward passage in the North Pole.
Global Warming, therefore, truly is happening. It is a question of the reasons why it is taking place, not for malthusian, save-the-whales” reasoning, but rather for the purpose of politics. Russia, surrounded on all sides and dying inside, with few hopes of saving herself, is logically speaking, taking what one might call the most reasonable of choices to ensure her own survival, and in the process attempt to rebalance the naval power alignment at least in some regions of the world to her favor.
However, there is a serious downside to this melting, which is that truly, sea levels really can and will rise. They have been rising for a long time, and scientists have said before as well as now that a rise in sea level directly corresponds with ice melt.
It is known that many times, when a nation wants to do something for political purposes, it can have unintended consequences. When the US armed Islamic terrorist groups as a part of Gladio, for example, it created a number of incidents and people that she lost control over, or has difficultly controlling, that in the name of ‘fighting the USSR’ made new enemies for herself, the biggest of which so far has been Turkey, who was rebuild by the US and is now returning to her historical menacing state and could get worse in the future. In the case of Russia, she has a long history of environmental disasters made in the name of political gain, two particularly famous ones in recent history being the destruction of the Aral Sea for the purpose of growing cotton, and Kyshtym Incident that turned Lake Karachay into first a pool of nuclear sludge and then a nuclear dust bowl that blew radioactive dust around Central-West Russia and Kazakhstan for decades.
So here again it seems that Russia, out of desperation as well as reason, is attempting to modify the environment around her in order to help herself rise as a global power again, for while she may have the world’s second most powerful military, Russia for practical purposes larps more as a superpower than actually is one, and while not regarded as having the same power, the nations of France, Germany, Turkey, and even China among others are more viable contenders for this position. This could give Russia an edge that, assuming time, a population recover or stability, and some economic development, would be very helpful to her.
However, there is also the unintended consequences. One can already see this in places such as Norilsk, where as the major Russian closed military city is built on permafrost, the thawing and warming of the region threatens to physically collapse the city. She is not the only place threatened by this, and this is to speak nothing of possible real rising sea levels due to ice melt that threaten to swallow not just Russian cities, but cities in every nation around the world, and even whole nations.
The world is facing many issues right now. There is the potential of another major migrant crisis, the rising threat of a real, global war, and many political issues. In a major conflict, there will be many theaters in which the war will be fought, and one of these is most likely going to be the Arctic. In Russia’s efforts to save herself and rise again, will she also create her biggest man-made environmental crisis yet by raising the ocean’s levels and perhaps, submerging whole nations unintentionally?
This cannot be confirmed, but truth is always stranger than fiction, and given the events in the Arctic, it will be for one to watch and see what Russia does and what the consequences- intended and unintended -may become.