New Nuclear Icebreaker Extends Russian Arctic Dominance

Russian nuclear icebreaker "Arktika"
Russian nuclear icebreaker “Arktika”. By Abarinov (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Guest essay by Eric Worrall

While the US languishes in the shallows with two fossil fuel powered Icebreakers, Russia has just launched its 39th active icebreaker, its sixth nuclear powered icebreaker.

Russia’s Latest Nuclear-Powered Icebreaker Extends Arctic Dominance

MOSCOW — The Cold War may be long over, but there’s still the Arctic chill.

Russia floated its largest and most powerful nuclear-powered icebreaker last month, upping the ante in what is literally the coldest global gold rush.

The ice-smashing ship was Russia’s sixth reactor-driven polar vessel. The United States doesn’t have a single one.

Moscow’s dominance of the northern seas — courtesy of vast investments — has America and the West worried. Here’s why.

What do we know about Russia’s icebreakers?

Moscow is the most active player in the race for polar dominance — despite the current economic crisis debilitating its fortunes at home.

Of Russia’s 39 icebreakers, six are powered by nuclear reactors.

The newest vessel — the Arktika — was floated on June 16 and will make its maiden voyage next year. An unchallenged feat of icebreaker engineering, the vessel is 1 ½ football fields in length and is powered by twin nuclear reactors.

The Department of Homeland Security said in 2013 that the U.S. needs at least six active icebreakers.

It currently has two active icebreakers and one ice-capable research vessel — none of which are nuclear-powered.

Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/russia-s-latest-nuclear-powered-icebreaker-extends-arctic-dominance-n602381

Aside from utter defacto military dominance of the Arctic Ocean, the Russian icebreaker fleet ensures massive logistical support for growing commercial Russian oil and gas extraction in the far North.

Of course, given President Obama’s plan to make solar cost competitive in 10 years, and Obama’s confidence that the Arctic will be ice free by 2040, perhaps the current US administration thinks the massive Russian investment in icebreakers and Arctic fossil fuel extraction is wasted effort.

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MarkW
July 6, 2016 7:02 am

Why are they wasting money on ice breakers. Isn’t the arctic ice free by now?

Jay Hope
Reply to  MarkW
July 6, 2016 7:43 am

That’s what I thought, MarkW!

tgmccoy
Reply to  MarkW
July 6, 2016 7:55 am

The Russians know cold-they are betting on cold. While we build ineffective whirlygigs, they build Nuke power…

Mickey Reno
Reply to  tgmccoy
July 7, 2016 6:54 am

We’re going to kick the Russian’s butts by building a fleet of solar powered ice-breakers that run on free fuel. The ice-breakers will be transferred to summer oceans as the seasons change in order to take advantage of the longer daylight in the summer hemisphere. And if you don’t believe me, remember, you read it on the Internet, where no false statements are allowed.

Reply to  MarkW
July 6, 2016 10:24 am

The point is that now we know why the Arctic is ice free — the Russians have been up there breaking it into little pieces.
Everybody thinks they are up there for oil, but it’s the ice they want.

Leo Smith
Reply to  lorcanbonda
July 6, 2016 12:45 pm

you need a lot for that vodka highball

Reply to  MarkW
July 7, 2016 7:55 pm

Who would care? Why would anyone want to waste energy navigating the surface of the Arctic sea? What would be the point? Bird watching? Polar Bear Rescue?

Felflames
July 6, 2016 7:11 am

Winter is coming.
And the Russians want to be able to access their northern ports once the big chill sets in.

Reply to  Felflames
July 6, 2016 9:50 am

The Russians are serious, as their Arctic Coast is huge. I was poking about various Russian sites, as I tried to find out news about their Bareno North Pole site this year, and even read they are thinking a way to get around the problems inherent with a blue-ice airstrip plowed on sea-ice, (which is what Barneo is), is to build a huge floating platform. It sounded to me like an ice-breaker that was an aircraft carrier.
Yes, they are serious about their Arctic investments.
The ice looks to be thicker and more compacted than 2012, so far this summer, though the usual suspects only talk about the extent being the same as as 2012.
https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/arctic-sea-ice-reinforcing-ralph/

Bryan A
Reply to  Caleb
July 6, 2016 12:24 pm

Sounds like 2012 all over again. I wonder if this means that John Cusack will be making a sequel to his disaster flick?

Reply to  Bryan A
July 6, 2016 2:54 pm

A good futuristic war-film would be “Invasion over the top.” A good disaster film would be a luxury liner up in arctic waters when a volcano blows in Iceland, calving off huge chunks of a glacier, trapping a large amount of people amidst polar bears…to begin with.

Reply to  Caleb
July 6, 2016 12:57 pm

I am real curious to see what happens to the rate of change in the sea ice by the end of this month. I do not think that the warmists will see what they are hoping to see in that respect.

Reply to  goldminor
July 6, 2016 2:49 pm

I don’t think so either. Most of the thinner ice is already melted. If the sea ice spreads out and disperses the “extent” could actually increase briefly.

Reply to  Caleb
July 6, 2016 5:08 pm

Ah…. well … I fully expect to see the re-invention of Pycrete….
see HERE

Reply to  tomo
July 6, 2016 5:42 pm

Cool. Somehow I missed that story of the iceberg-aircraft-carrier. But Churchill had a great love of zany ideas and gadgets. One person stated, “he had 100 ideas a day, and three were good ones”. It was very important that he be surrounded by skeptics.
One idea Churchill developed in World War One was a trench-digging-tank. A prototype was built that flung colossal amounts of dirt and stone into the air but was “too slow”. (I always wanted to find out where they parked that monstrous machine. It might be a handy tractor to have in New England pastures.)

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Caleb
July 6, 2016 7:49 pm

“Caleb July 6, 2016 at 5:42 pm
One idea Churchill developed in World War One was a trench-digging-tank.”
No, I don’t think he did. He received many ideas, including a tracked vehicle that was designed by John Cory and was called a “Tank” to disguise the potential purpose. John planned for the machine to carry a gun. Churchill passed on ideas to the War Office, many of which were turned down.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
July 6, 2016 10:11 pm

You may be right. I read the story in the biography “The Last Lion.” Don’t have time to go back and find the page number, tonight. But I do recall the description of the trials the vehicle went through.

jan
July 6, 2016 7:11 am

I am wondering what the effect of icebreakers is on the ice extent if you cut up ice doesn’t it flow away more easy ?

papiertigre
Reply to  jan
July 6, 2016 7:25 am

Some time ago I thought along the same line. There is a correlation between the growth of the Russian ice breaker fleet and the degrading of year round Arctic pack ice.
Want to see the graph?
Sorry, I left it in my coat pocket. Six years ago.

Reply to  jan
July 6, 2016 9:23 am

I expect it’s a tiny positive effect – as ice is broken into smaller chunks and floats apart, it will be able to cover larger areas with 15+% ice.
This is especially so when you consider that smaller bergs, while still having the same percentage of ice submerged, won’t have the ice to the same depth. Smaller chunks likely will rotate in the water and expose a greater area to view. So, same amount of ice but looking like more ice.

tty
Reply to  Bob Shapiro
July 6, 2016 10:06 am

No bergs or growlers, only sea-ice in the Russian sector of the Arctic since there isn’t a single tidewater glacier in Siberia.

Griff
Reply to  jan
July 7, 2016 12:44 am

None at all.
The NSIDC have covered that:
http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/faq/#icebreakers

clipe
Reply to  Griff
July 7, 2016 4:23 pm

In winter, any openings caused by icebreakers will quickly freeze over again. So, scientists do not think that icebreakers play a significant role in accelerating the decline in Arctic sea ice.”
Interesting use of the word “covered”.

Ron Clutz
July 6, 2016 7:16 am

Not to mention the impacts from Norwegian icebreakers:comment image?zoom=2

Bernie
July 6, 2016 7:19 am

Environmental effort to save the Grolar bear from extinction.

July 6, 2016 7:21 am

Russia – a country with a strategic vision.
Meanwhile, our administration is more intent on naval gazing vis-a-vis putting ‘men’ in women’s rest-and-locker-rooms … leading Texas governor Greg Abbott to pen:
JFK wanted to send a man to the moon. Obama wants to send a man to the women’s restroom. …”

Reply to  _Jim
July 6, 2016 7:22 am

.. navel … Doh!

MarkW
Reply to  _Jim
July 6, 2016 8:36 am

Naval gazing is what Russia and China have been doing.
To our detriment.

Jason Calley
Reply to  _Jim
July 6, 2016 8:35 am

One difference is that the men who went to the moon did not “self identify” as moon-men.

Bryan A
Reply to  _Jim
July 6, 2016 12:29 pm

Gotta call IDIOT on Obama for that man-euver. The only restroom anyone should use is the one they are currently visibly plumbed for. As long as a Trans-gendering Man has his Schlong, he goes into the men’s room. I can just see the Rapists and pedophiles disguised in dresses now. (Oh great, now I’m going to have to go wash out my minds eye)

Krudd Gillard of the Commondebt of Australia
Reply to  _Jim
July 7, 2016 4:42 am

How far the US has fallen.

July 6, 2016 7:25 am

The Russian Federation has a huge Arctic Ocean coast line, and a very poor land transportation network in the far north. They also have a strategic need to maintain their internal capability to build nuclear powered vessels. The arctic ice breaker construction addresses these strategic needs.
I see an incredible amount of blarney in the USA media about the Russian presence in the Arctic. The Russians do have an extensive area within their area, and they do need to have a response capability as they develop Barents and Kara oil and gas fields.
The USA, on the other hand, has no Arctic Ocean exploration, it has a road network to Pruhoe Bay in the North Slope, plus there are also fully capable year round air fields in several locations. Therefore there’s no real need for the USA to copy the Russian building program.

Reply to  Fernando Leanme
July 6, 2016 7:32 am

Just out of curiosity, what is the US’s strategic vision, for anything?

Tom in Florida
Reply to  _Jim
July 6, 2016 7:44 am

To be third rate, in everything.

Jason Calley
Reply to  _Jim
July 6, 2016 8:37 am

Our new flag will be a solid field of yellow with a big red gamma in the middle

Reply to  _Jim
July 6, 2016 10:45 am

Apparently, the “vision” is to create “outrage” over Trayvon Martin, Ferguson MO, Freddie Gray. Small-time community-activist grifter made president fails to exercise competent national–let alone world– leadership. Who’d a thunk it.

Auto
Reply to  _Jim
July 6, 2016 2:04 pm

From the UK it doesn’t look like it did ten, twenty, thirty years ago.
Maybe a function of my vision.
Maybe a function of POTUS’s vision.
My two-penn’orth from here – East of the Atlantic, North of France.
Auto

Ben of Houston
Reply to  Fernando Leanme
July 6, 2016 8:43 am

Agreed, it’s not America that realistically should fear Russian dominance of the artic, but Canada.

PaulH
Reply to  Ben of Houston
July 6, 2016 10:01 am

I fear I have to agree with Ben of Houston on this. Canada seems to be able to talk about developing the Canadian Arctic, but never really does anything. Why wouldn’t the Russians step in? No one is up there to tell them to leave. /sigh

Reply to  Ben of Houston
July 6, 2016 11:47 am

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, like his father, doesn’t really want any development between the Rockies and Wawa Ontario or North of 60. The environment must be left as it is. He campaigned on it. Ontario and Quebec are the “Industrial Heartland”(and vote garnering area). BC is an offshore investment portfolio (well, mainly Vancouver and Toronto). Everything else is just window dressing for tourists.
Ah – must have woken up cynical this morning. All good in 8 or 9 more years … for those who can wait

Reply to  Ben of Houston
July 6, 2016 12:43 pm

There’s no “Russian dominance in the Arctic”. The Russians are simply dealing with transportation and response within their waters.
Americans have developed a rather imperial attitude about world dominance, and there’s a lot of military industrial complex advocacy for military spending which seems a waste of money. I would worry more about starting less wars like Iraq which lead nowhere, and focus on defending USA borders against terrorism which USA foreign policy ignites.

tty
Reply to  Fernando Leanme
July 6, 2016 10:19 am

A single dirt road is a “network”? You could even argue that the Russians have a better “network” since they have two roads to the Barents Sea coast (to Murmansk and Archangelsk/Severodvinsk). Plus two railroads.

Reply to  tty
July 6, 2016 12:51 pm

The Russians don’t have permanent roads to the Arctic coast line east of the White Sea. I’ve worked in the Russian Arctic and there simply isn’t a good way to ship in or out a large load unless it’s via winter road over the tundra, summer sea lift, or by air.
Since I worked there I like to keep an eye on the Kara Gate, it seems the warming climate allows it to stay open much later in the season, and it opens much more often, but there’s still a problem approaching Yamal and the Ob Gulf is a mess. Further east, forget it. I wouldn’t organize a sea lift beyond Norilsk without a large ice breaker. And I don’t see much planning to cross the NSR on a regular basis.

Pete of Perth
July 6, 2016 7:31 am

I wonder if it’s called Лодкаy McЛодка лицо?

Big Al
July 6, 2016 7:49 am

You should compare Russia to Canada’s ice breaker fleet. They both have the northern ocean. Canada doesn’t seem to have the interest in developing the northern route that Russia does.

commieBob
Reply to  Big Al
July 6, 2016 8:47 am

You’re right. Canada does not have an interest in developing the Northwest Passage whereas the Russians depend on the Northeast Passage
The situations of the two countries are totally different.

Bloke down the pub
Reply to  Big Al
July 6, 2016 10:13 am

If the Canadians build more icebreakers it will encourage more cruiseships to enter those waters. With all those extra lives at risk the Canadians would be obliged to build yet more icebreakers.

commieBob
Reply to  Bloke down the pub
July 6, 2016 12:53 pm

It’s actually worse. Canada’s stance is that the Northwest Passage is Canadian water. The American stance is that it is international water. The Canadians have no interest in having a lot of ships travel the NWP because it might weaken their claim that it is an internal waterway. link

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
July 6, 2016 1:48 pm

and Canada is ‘loosing’ the magnetic pole to Russia.
https://youtu.be/2MP45u4yyIE

RoHa
Reply to  Bloke down the pub
July 6, 2016 11:44 pm

No, Canada is losing the magnetic pole to those sneaky Russians. The Canadians don’t want to let it loose, but Putin has tricked them by confusing their spelling.

commieBob
Reply to  Bloke down the pub
July 7, 2016 12:16 pm

RoHa says: July 6, 2016 at 11:44 pm
… Putin has tricked them …

Putin has lots of photo-ops of him doing manly things to people and objects who can’t fight back. Canada’s pretty-boy prime minister, on the other hand, has a history of beating up on people who can fight back. link, link He ain’t pretty, he just looks that way.
Putin is more than a decade older than Trudeau and his health may not be so good. I think it’s time for a cage match.

ossqss
July 6, 2016 7:54 am

Eric, the article is way off on dimensions. This vessel is not 1 1/2 football fields long. Not to diminish the importance, but accuracy is important. That would be larger than the biggest carrier at that length.
https://www.engadget.com/2016/06/20/russia-unveils-largest-nuclear-icebreaker/
https://www.rt.com/business/346997-russia-arktika-icebreaker-float/
Regards Ed

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  ossqss
July 6, 2016 8:09 am

The Russian nuclear ice breakers are in a range of 148 to 173 meters long, so roughly 800 feet for the big boat. A Nimitz Class carrier is typically 1100 feet long, for example the Regan is 1092 feet. One and a half football fields is a good approximation

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
July 6, 2016 8:12 am

correction … almost 600 feet for the big boat, I was distracted by our 7 year old and her new invention of “magic goop”

HocusLocus
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
July 7, 2016 3:54 am

Mark from the Midwest:
I was distracted by our 7 year old and her new invention of “magic goop”

Sudden squall line of severe thunderstorms with damaging straight-line winds crossing Midwest. STOP. Bizarre weather patterns spontaneously emerged as ‘magic goop’ produced. STOP. Advise to cease ‘magic goop’ production immediately secure all present stock in airtight containers store below ground. STOP. All weather stations report on the quarter hour until goop secured. MESSAGE ENDS.

H.R.
Reply to  ossqss
July 6, 2016 8:59 am

ossqss: The 1st article you linked to gave the length of the ice breaker as 569 feet long.
569ft/300ft/American Football Field = 1.897 American Football Fields long.
The length of an official FIFA Pitch is a minimum of 90m and a maximum of 120m long.
569ft/393.72ft/That Other Kind of Football Field = 1.445 That Other Kind of Football Field long ;o)

ossqss
Reply to  H.R.
July 6, 2016 9:36 am

You are correct. I knew I should have had my coffee before commenting. Doh! 🙂

David A
Reply to  H.R.
July 7, 2016 5:57 am

US football field should include end zones.

michael hart
Reply to  ossqss
July 6, 2016 5:11 pm

An Irish football field can be three times longer than a US football field.

H.R.
Reply to  michael hart
July 6, 2016 7:53 pm

I generally don’t cite wikipolitipedia, but here goes, Michael,

A Gaelic pitch is similar in some respects to a rugby pitch but larger. The grass pitch is rectangular, stretching 130–145 metres (142–159 yards)…

159yds/100yds/American Football Field = 1.59 American Football Fields long or a bit less than the length of the new Russian ice breaker.

Reply to  michael hart
July 7, 2016 6:27 am

Do Texans know this?

H.R.
Reply to  michael hart
July 7, 2016 10:46 am

vuk: I was going to make a joke about Texas-sized football fields, but thanks to you, I don’t have to come up with one. Good one.
David A: Technically you are correct @ 120yds but ask a large sample of Americans how long a football field is and you’ll get “100 yards” way more than the low standard of 97% that’s accepted in climate science. In a small random sample of 40 million American males, the correct answer of 120 yards would not even register.
;o)

Steve Oregon
July 6, 2016 8:10 am

Seem like California could use a few of those if they have nuclear powered desalination on board.
Nuclear desalination is green.
http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/non-power-nuclear-applications/industry/nuclear-desalination.aspx
“In December 2015 the “Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance – H2O minus CO2″ initiative was launched at the COP 21 climate talks in Paris, and called on its 17-nation membership to use clean energy to power new desalination plants. The call was part of the alliance’s aim to tackle the water-energy nexus and climate change.”

July 6, 2016 8:14 am

Interesting how Greenpeace are steering clear of the Russians these days …
https://thepointman.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/russia-3-greenpeace-2/
Pointman

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Pointman
July 6, 2016 8:46 am

Would love to see the Rainbow Warrior cross the bow of the Yamal. On March 16th, 2009 Yamal collided with the tanker MT Indiga in the Kara Sea. The tanker was left with a 31 ft crack on the main deck. There was no damage to the Yamal

Joe
July 6, 2016 8:23 am

The Obama strategic vision is to build wind and solar powered ice makers, to help restore the arctic to its pre-GW state

Paul Westhaver
July 6, 2016 8:34 am

Canada has also created an arctic patrol program to assert it’s sovereignty over the northern realms.
The program is 25 billion over 30ish years.
The Ships are being constructed in Halifax, that is unless the drama teacher decides to stop the program in order to pay for rainbow sidewalk painting.
Here is a link to a portion of the 25 billion contract.
http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/naval/ships/2015/01/25/canada-arctic-offshore-patrol/22153853/

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Paul Westhaver
July 6, 2016 12:02 pm

Quoting from the article: “Harper originally called for a fleet of armed Polar-class icebreakers. But that was scaled back to one unarmed icebreaker, yet to be built, and up to eight Arctic patrol ships…” and further down:
“But Shadwick acknowledged the ships are limited in their ability to travel through heavier ice.”
Great! Looks like our neighbors to the north have bought into the CAGW fiasco hook, line and sinker. The way the current solar cycle is behaving they’re going to look a bit funny when they can only patrol their northern coast maybe one month a year, if that. Maybe they can outfit them for fishing in the 11-month off-season.

Gamecock
July 6, 2016 8:50 am

“President Nixon, what are you going to do about the icebreaker gap?”
+1 Fernando Leanme
Russia has a 4,500 mile Arctic coastline. They need icebreakers.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
July 6, 2016 9:05 am

While the US languishes in the shallows with two fossil fuel powered Icebreakers,

(emphasis added)
If only. The US had two heavy-duty icebreakers, the Polar Star and the Polar Sea, but the Polar Sea has been completely out of commission since 2010 due to complete failure of 5 of her 6 diesel engines. A report on the feasibility of refitting here was submitted in late 2013 but no action has been taken (i.e., no funds authorized). Estimates from 2008 were for $400 million for a full refit (25 years additional service) to $56 million minor refit (7-10 years additional service). A new replacement came in at $925 million.
The Polar Star was herself out of commission for four years for a $57 million refit. She was put back in commission in late 2013 just in time to be dispatched to Sydney in January 2014 to help rescue the Akademik Shokalskiy of Chris Turney fame. But before she arrived the winds had shifted and made the rescue unnecessary. If the estimates from 2008 are correct, the Polar Star is only good for service until 2023.
The US has other icebreakers for lighter duty on the Great Lakes, but only one functioning maximum duty icebreaker.

cbone
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
July 6, 2016 10:42 am

You are forgetting the USCG Healy. It is an Arctic rated ocean going Icebreaker, but it does not have the capability to handle the thicker Antarctic ice like the Polar Sea and Star can.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  cbone
July 6, 2016 11:44 am

You’re right. Healy is classified as a medium duty icebreaker and although larger than the Polar Star, is less powerful (34.6 MW vs 70.2 MW), and presumably not as heavily reinforced.
Back in 2011 the sea ice around Nome prevented oil delivery by the usual means and the Healy had too deep a draft to get closer than a mile to shore, so they had to contract the Russian icebreaking tanker Renda to deliver the fuel oil Nome needed to get through the winter.
Bottom line: we don’t have enough icebreakers. The Akademik Shokalskiy affair made that clear.

July 6, 2016 9:18 am

It should be pointed out that USA’s Arctic internationally recognised territory is much smaller (about 20%) the Russia’s. Claimed territory by USA is increased by additional 75% , whilst the Russian extra claim increases their territory by additional 30%.
Also it should be pointed out that the most potential oil and gas fields are in the Russian internationally recognised territory.
Conclusion must be that both countries requirements are vastly different and there is no need for sensationalising the issue.
This map is from Siberian Times published today.
http://siberiantimes.com/PICTURES/OTHERS/Arctic-claims/inside_arctic_claims.jpg
Russia submits application for stake of $30 trillion Arctic shelf oil and gas rights
The Convention on the Law of the Sea enables a country to broaden its economic zone on the condition that the sea floor outside its border is a natural continuation of the continent’s fringe.
At stake are 30% of unexplored global reserves of natural gas and 15% of unexplored oilfields.
The new submission is based on deep seismic sounding in the central section of the Arctic basin, seismic and bathymetric profiling, and geological sampling.
The Russian application is likely to face opposition from four other nations with Arctic interests, namely the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark (Greenland).

dickon66
Reply to  vukcevic
July 6, 2016 12:26 pm

Except that the USA has never ratified the later convention, extending its control zone to the 200 mile line – generally it holds to it, unless there is a strong vested interest in not recognising a country’s extended sea border. Added to that is the fact that the US government has tried briefly (without much success) to make the Arctic into an international territory (similar to Antarctica) – which has not gone down too well, except with some environmentalists. Russia, on the other hand, has been building up its presence in the Arctic since at least 2008 (it resumed Navy patrols in the Arctic then), so has quite a lot of a head start.

Reply to  dickon66
July 6, 2016 12:41 pm

USA has to be eternally grateful for stupidity of the Imperial Russia’s officials who in 1867 sold the territory of Alaska to the U.S. for poultry sum of $7.2 million. By early 1900’s, the Americans had earned that amount back 100 times over.

Leo Smith
Reply to  dickon66
July 6, 2016 12:51 pm

is a ‘poultry sum’ the same as ‘chickenfeed’?

Reply to  dickon66
July 6, 2016 1:11 pm

Absolutely. I suspect I hit both ‘p’ & ‘o’ at same time with my fat fumbling finger. By the marvel of the ‘auto spell checker’ on my browser I got the amusing ‘synonym’.

dickon66
Reply to  dickon66
July 6, 2016 2:42 pm

Not stupidity. It was a certain fatalistic realism, but not necessarily stupidity. The ‘Great Game’ between the Crimean War allies and Russia was hotting up in several places – Russia was pushing on the North West Frontier in Afghanistan and Britain was aggressively patrolling sea lanes, showing Russia that it could isolate and blockade Alaska at will. Faced with the all-too-real prospect that Britain would blockade then invade Alaska, with Russia being unable to defend it; the canny Russians decided to sell it to the USA and thumb their noses at Britain. Russia most certainly didn’t want the British to get Alaska, so they arranged an attractive price that the USA could afford and couldn’t afford not to buy. It was never about how much money they could’ve made – it was about political tit-for-tat and making the best of a bad situation.

MarkW
Reply to  dickon66
July 7, 2016 7:36 am

From what I remember, the Russians figured that they would lose Alaska to England via Canada anyway, so selling it to the US kept it out of British control and got Russia some money that they badly needed anyway.

July 6, 2016 9:28 am

Correction: Map was published 06/08/2015, when Russia submitted application for oil and gas rights.

Tom O
July 6, 2016 10:28 am

the viewpoint on CO2 and carbon based fuels factors into this. Russia “talks” it but is smart enough to go ahead and develop the energy resources for a cooling climate. The US and Canada also “talk” it, but are at war with carbon fuel development because they aren’t aware or concerned, whichever, of a cooling climate, only of CO2 emissions. In time, after enough deaths, they may come to realize that a home mired in ice age conditions requires energy for warmth, and that snow covered solar panels and either over or under ideal wind driven ice slingers – they won’t be bird killers since there won’t be birds in the frigid environment – can’t keep a doll house warm, much less a real house. By then, they probably won’t be able to develop their resources and will be buying them from Russia and Norway.

Resourceguy
July 6, 2016 10:44 am

Just in time for low oil prices

July 6, 2016 11:02 am

Robert Byrd flew to the North Pole. The USS Nautilus cruised under it. These were firsts. Should be enough to make “This is our territory” claims for the USA since nobody else did this first.
As for oil and gas claims, the Greens tell us fossil fuels must be eliminated, so Russia has no plausible reason to claim fossil-fuel-rich undersea lands rights that according to the Greens cannot and will not ever be developed.

Reply to  lftpm
July 6, 2016 1:30 pm

To late, the Russian’ sub planted their flag there first.
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00641/news-graphics-2007-_641999a.jpg

Reply to  lftpm
July 6, 2016 1:33 pm

Robert “KKK” Byrd, or maybe Admiral Richard E. Byrd?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_E._Byrd
Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr., USN (October 25, 1888 – March 11, 1957) was an American naval officer who specialized in feats of exploration. He was a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the highest honor for valor given by the United States, and was a pioneering American aviator, polar explorer, and organizer of polar logistics.

Reply to  lftpm
July 6, 2016 1:35 pm

Hmmm … Admiral Richard E. Byrd perhaps … the other was a Grand Kleagle or some such …

Dodgy Geezer
Reply to  lftpm
July 7, 2016 5:20 am

Actually, the first people to stand on the North Pole were Russian.

tadchem
July 6, 2016 11:29 am

I know of something that the US has in great abundance that is almost unknown in Russia – “environmentalists”.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  tadchem
July 6, 2016 3:51 pm

The trouble is, American “environmentalists” usually are TV pseudo-news indoctrinated on the subject and don’t care to actually educate themselves any farther.

Ross King
July 6, 2016 3:13 pm

China’s attitude to marine territorial boundaries is an entirely pragmatic one, and we should learn valuable lessons from them (albeit too late???) They sent in (or otherwise encouraged) the fishermen long ago to get a ‘toe-in-the-door’ as to territoriality (“We were here first! These are our traditional hunting-grounds!”) Next, they are claiming eminent domain and building islands, complete with naval bases and military air-strips …. all as a means towards extrapolating the 200 mile territorial limit from these new, now-Chinese, atolls.
Russians are not stupid (especially Putin) and rest assured they are busily asserting such rights over as much of the Arctic Ocean as they can, as fast as they can.
“Possession is 9 Points of the Law!” Claim it; militarize it; colonize it; and tell other claimants to f***-off or risk a war.
I often think of Obama’s mantra: “Yes we can!”-style electioneering. “Yes we can …….[what]?” … and the proof is now in: Cede just about everything of American strategic interest, and reduce USA to relative impotence in the face of influence-expanding (territorial & diplomatic & military), assertive, Russia & China.
USA took a cue from the Brits and successfully established a ‘Blue-Water’ fleet to dominate the international waves. But where is the Artic Ocean in this thinking? Dare I say “dead in the water”?
On a closing note, I’d love to see a Chess-match between Putin & Obama. Given Putin’s cunning & savoir-faire of international strategizing & diplomacy (‘War by other means’) I’m sure the result would be ‘Game, Set & Match’ for Vlad, just as on the international, diplomatic chess-board!

PA
July 6, 2016 4:08 pm

“New Nuclear Icebreaker Extends Russian Arctic Dominance”
Well, it isn’t really Russian dominance, it is US submission.

Ross King
Reply to  PA
July 7, 2016 10:07 am

rtj1211: I hear what you say and agree, but …..
The Brits used to be Global Policeman, and that mantle passed de facto to the Americans post WW2. To the extent that this has been beneficial to the World in the meantime, I support American hegemony until some other entity/country can take over the role effectively. Sure doesn’t look like the UN can pull it off, nor the E.U.
And who trusts Putin or the Chinese with their territorial ambitions?

PA
Reply to  Ross King
July 8, 2016 2:22 am

Putin and the Chinese.

Walter Sobchak
July 6, 2016 6:10 pm

Obama is happy to continue to cripple US Defense capabilities. What he really wants to do is to transform the US Navy into a solar powered LBGTQ nightclub. He is getting his way.

Robert Clark
July 6, 2016 8:50 pm

To Bryan A “ICE STATION ZEBRA” might need a VHS player if you can still rent it.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Robert Clark
July 6, 2016 11:27 pm

It’s on YouTube.

RoHa
Reply to  Robert Clark
July 6, 2016 11:50 pm

“a VHS player”
Never heard of that. No such thing. My son certainly couldn’t programme one.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  RoHa
July 7, 2016 2:19 am

No VHS, no BETAMAX?

Reply to  RoHa
July 7, 2016 11:36 am

U-Matic? (3/4″ format I think); all successors to the semi-professional 1″ open real VTR format pioneered by Ampex.

Reply to  RoHa
July 7, 2016 11:36 am

… reel …

rtj1211
July 7, 2016 12:29 am

Why on earth would America NOT expect Russia to ‘be dominant in the Arctic’?
It’s not as if they’re invading foreign countries, is it? They just have a huge northern coastline with the Arctic ocean………
Why do Americans think that the only people on earth allowed to ‘dominate’ anything are themselves??
They may be emotionally addicted to master-slave relationships, but trust me, the rest of the world most certainly is not……..

MarkW
Reply to  rtj1211
July 7, 2016 7:39 am

The paranoia is strong with this one as well.

Ross King
Reply to  MarkW
July 10, 2016 6:01 pm

The paranoia wd be less had Russia not attacked Ukraine and colonized Crimea.
To say nothing of sabre-rattling with ex-Warsaw -Pact countries,
Putin breeds paranoia … and that’s his game, right?
So: “Don’t Happy, be Worried” — with a menace like him over-shadowing world-politics. He has a sole ultimate purpose: Russian hegemony.
On the other hand, if Canada were really smart (which I doubt given Toy-Boy, Ladies-Man Trudeau’s leadership, more intent on ‘smilies’, ‘selfies’ and jean-creaming politicking, than cold, calculating matters-of-state), they’d play-off Russia against USA. Since Canada — given it’s military impotence — is incapable of defending against either, its key role is as ‘Buffer-State’ …. as perceived from both sides!!!!!
As a Canadian, and thanks to Obama’s zero support of Canada’s interest in the pipeline debate, I’d advocate eschewing US interests and welcoming Russian ones in Canada.
What’s wrong with a Joint Canadian-Soviet Alliance re: Arctic Waters, and military & commercial interests therein (… for starters!)
Who’s the Devil in the piece??????
Shuffle the deck and deal the cards …..

Reply to  rtj1211
July 7, 2016 11:33 am

Why do Americans think that the only people on earth allowed to
Why did Great Britain ‘rule the waves’ and build an empire? For what ‘goal’ did the USSR lust?
Ans: It’s a human thing; you may not understand (bot or not?) …

Russ Wood
Reply to  _Jim
July 8, 2016 8:18 am

“Take up the White Man’s burden.. (etc)”. This is not, by the way, a paean to the British Empire, but Kipling’s warning to the USA when it assumed control of the Philippines. Please note that I’m not a “return to Empire’ nut – I subscribe to the joke: “Q: Why did the sun never set on the British Empire? A: Because God couldn’t trust an Englishman in the dark”.

Tim Crome
July 7, 2016 10:17 am

Official US Coast Guard Strategy is based on a warming Arctic with declining ice, see page 9 of this document:
http://www.uscg.mil/seniorleadership/docs/cg_arctic_strategy.pdf
The Russians don’t see things the same way!

Gary Pearse
July 7, 2016 12:31 pm

Haven’t Wespoint grads been told their won’t be any ice? I think permanently ice free might take a big hit if strategists in the US start to visualize why Russia would go to such an extent to dominate in Ice Breaker fleets. Don’t forget, they are pragmatists and a nation of chess players. They also discovered that shrinking ice fields in the Arctic were matched by shrinking ice caps on Mars! This has been a kind of No No in climate discussions in the west so the west seems not to know much about this. Look at this from NatGeo no less. It must have got printed while the gatekeepers were on climate klatch in Bali or someplace.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html
Nasa gets the credit but they shut up about it. Not so the Russians:
“Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun. The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars,” he said.
Do you think this guy advises the Russian government on this stuff? A western researcher would lose his funding and his job if he did the same thing.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
July 7, 2016 12:32 pm

No one seems to be reporting on the Mars ice cap these days, but I suspect it may be recovering.

Ross King
July 7, 2016 2:00 pm

Canada’s Trudeau and Obama are ‘birds of a feather’, and it’s hardly surprising that we have a weak-kneed, spineless response to just about everything. Is this a case of ‘small sticks’ begetting *having* to ‘walk softly’?
Canada has long had an institutional incapacity to place any order for any publicly-funded military (or quasi-military, such as Coast Guard) equipment in a timely, cost-effective and efficient manner … the list of delays, cancellations, inter-departmental wrangling, political infighting, inter-provincial arm-wrestling & rivalry, vote-pandering, etc., is endless. To say nothing of a pathological inability to firm-up Specifications, of huge budget over-runs, and delivery delays measured in years, if not decades.
Canada’s government won’t step-up to the plate of meeting its internal hardware requirements, let alone its international obligations, as it *cannot* do so …. it is paralyzed by government & bureaucracy from achieving these objectives.
Common-sense dictates that “they” write up a Specification — in stone! — put it out to bid internationally, and place an order within 7 days. However, ‘common-sense’ is a commodity far beyond the comprehension of narrow-interest politicians and sinecure-retaining bureaucrats in Ottawa.
This is why you won’t see a significant Canadian presence in the Arctic Ocean (for years, if ever). And another reason why not, is that if we can get the Yanks to do it for us, then we can focus on, and fund resolution of the *real* issues, such as the ‘feel-good’ politics of genderism, equal opportunity & washrooms — subjects much closer to the heartbeat of the current government.
Especially when one’s Leader is more obsessed with photo-op ‘selfies’ and smiley-face politics than dealing with hard issues of State.
If Canada can’t defend its own borders, and relies on our southern cousins to do so, we are ‘Buffer-State’ at best and ‘Manifest Destiny’ at worst. If Putin can do it with Crimea, so Trump can with Canada.
And so, folks, “Don’t ‘happy’ … be very, very ‘worried'”!

1sky1
July 7, 2016 4:55 pm

The rationale of the Odministration in D.C. is straightforward: since arctic ice is going to disappear soon anyway, there’s no point in spending money to break it up. That’s simple AGW logic, dummies.

Ross King
Reply to  1sky1
July 7, 2016 5:53 pm

Pie-in-Sky 1:
Errrrr. ….. I was referring to the overall building of marine & other forces from a strategic perspective, not just specifically the issue of icebreaking capability (which will be a factor until Arctic ice disappears which you wd appear — given your dismissive tenor & reference to non-believers as ‘dummies’) — to believe yourself.

Ross King
July 7, 2016 6:33 pm

iCEBREAKING 101: As I glean, there’s ice, ice & ice, from ice-floes hardened over millennia & centuries, thro’ multi-year, thro’ seasonal.
From my experience with Beaufort Sea Oil Production studies, ‘ice-islands’ are capable theoretically of having a draft as deep as the ocean at that point (maybe that’s merely a pessimistic design criterion rather than reality). We were talking of 60′ draft, and you’d need a massive tug rather than an ice-breaker!
I would suppose that ice-breaking captains ‘know where to go’ from experience & sat-photos, in order to clear a passage (if they can) from A to B.
I would further suggest that having opened a passage, it would be much simpler to keep it open with — what? — daily breaking (traffic & economics permitting), rather that on an ad hoc basis from scratch every time. Even in high-winter, freshly opened water wd only be a foot or so thick after 24 hrs (check me — I’m no expert) and that’d be an easy bit of daily(?) housekeeping for most icebreakers.

Reply to  Ross King
July 8, 2016 2:12 am

We have proof of ice island or stamuka keels touching the sea floor from surveys we run prior to drilling or planning a development. You should recall that we focus on sea floor scars to understand the threat to fixed installations. Ice breakers usually navigate over flat ice sectors, although in some cases they have to cross ice ridge fields. I’ve built ice breaker route optimization models and the key is to have a decent idea of ice conditions ahead. As for the ice breaker path staying open, that’s usually not going to happen, the wind pushes the ice and closes the channel, or it simply freezes over.

Ross King
Reply to  Fernando Leanme
July 8, 2016 9:33 am

Leanme: tks for yr input.
Hypothetically, if one had a flotilla of icebreakers at one’s disposal, all travelling in line-astern, say 1 nm apart, one cd maintain an open channel.
I’ve often wondered if this thinking may be applicable to maintaining 365 day access to a Hudson Bay port for export of W.Canadian oil … the traffic and the ‘road-maintenance’ costs are quantifiable; and the route stays the same. Maybe a larger no. of smaller, double-hulled, ice-reinforced tankers, with ancillary ‘road-maintenance’ icebreakers? (Reminiscent of what was being considered in Beaufort Seal oil-extraction studies?)

Greg
July 8, 2016 7:33 am

Boy oh boy, here I am in the UK, anti Russian rhetoric everywhere, the USSR (CCCP) has gone. We in the UK know that Russia is an Old country, their and our Royal families were related you know. we have more in common with Russia than the USA (which is only a couple of hundred years old). Washington and Whitehall need a bad guy, don not believe all the C**p you hear. Russians are FUN people.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Greg
July 9, 2016 12:54 am

The pearls the (UK/German) Queen wears in a “Crown” are from a Russian jewl. That Russian “Royal” family was chopped to death, man, woman, child, literally with axes and shovels.

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