Die Welt’s sadness: Russia is always one step ahead, including in the Arctic

White House chief executive Joe Biden’s administration confused everyone last week by lifting sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Die Welt's sadness: Russia is always one step ahead, including in the Arctic

 

In doing so the Americans took additional punitive measures against a number of companies and pipe-laying ships involved in its construction. This is as convincing behaviour as if a girl had said she was “a little pregnant”, Clemens Wergin writes in Germany’s Die Welt.

Obviously, the US president thus wanted to achieve détente with Germany, because it is indeed strange that the Americans are obstructing the implementation of their ally’s project. But in fact Washington is right on the issue, because in general the German-Russian pipeline is detrimental to geopolitical interests of the West. Now the US is backing down, but it is doing so primarily because it does not believe that the construction of Nord Stream 2 can be stopped, as it is almost complete. Biden’s decision is “a sign of indecision”, says Wergin. And he made it against the backdrop of another emerging geopolitical conflict with Russia in the Arctic.

Experts are convinced that Moscow, which will chair the Arctic Council this year, will make greater efforts to gain a foothold in the resource-rich region. Russia has increased its military presence there in recent years. New airstrips are being built. In March, three Russian submarines broke through the Arctic ice, thus asserting Russia’s claim. Vladimir Putin has already called the Arctic Russia’s “sphere of special interests”. The region is important for sustaining the country’s economy, which is heavily dependent on the export of fossil energy sources.

The U.S. accuses Russia of “militarising” the Arctic, but so far the Biden government has no concept of how to thwart Moscow. It is therefore high time that America and NATO developed a strategy on how to respond to Russia’s increased military presence in the region. Otherwise, the West will once again wake up too late and be forced to accept a fait accompli, such as the annexation of Crimea or the completion of Nord Stream 2. Russia is always one step ahead of the West, complains Clemens Wergin.

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