Russia defines Arctic intentions with supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles

Peace in our time.

St. Nicholas presides over the Russian military base at Nargurskoye, on Alexandra Island, Franz Josef Land, which is undergoing a major expansion by Russia.
St. Nicholas presides over the Russian military base at Nargurskoye, on Alexandra Island, Franz Josef Land, which is undergoing a major expansion by Russia.

If it wasn’t clear before that Russia intends to be prepared to “fight the Arctic,” it should be now.  A report from last week indicates that the Russians plan to put “Bastion” anti-ship missile systems at their Arctic bases in 2015, to go along with airfield improvements, aircraft deployments, and installation of mobile anti-air missile systems and early warning radars for a network of bases that extends from one end of Russia’s Arctic coast to the other, and well into the Arctic Ocean.

There is certainly a question as to what “threat” Russia imagines herself to be countering with the deployment of the cruise missile systems.

But that’s really asking the wrong question.  Given the dearth of non-Russian surface ship traffic through the area in question (maps 1 and 2), and the certainty that other nations with Arctic claims have no motive to put ships in that area against Russia’s will, a more accurate interpretation of this move is that Russia seeks to hold a geomilitary veto over the sea-lanes, in a manner similar to the veto sought by China over the South China Sea. Continue reading “Russia defines Arctic intentions with supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles”

Shell, with unexpected Arctic drilling approval, looks like Obama’s kind of oil company

Backscratch-fest?

Shell-leased rig Noble Discoverer in the Chukchi Sea. (Image: Royal Dutch Shell via LAT)
Shell-leased rig Noble Discoverer in the Chukchi Sea. (Image: Royal Dutch Shell via LAT)

As noted earlier today, the Obama administration on Monday gave Royal Dutch Shell “conditional approval” to drill an Arctic oil lease off the coast of Alaska in the Chukchi Sea – a move that has environmental groups in a tizzy.

Shell actually gave up on its hopes of drilling in the Arctic a little over a year ago after a setback in federal court, and at the time, environmental groups and the media were satisfied that the situation made sense, given the administration’s well-known posture on environmental issues and energy.

The mainstream media have been silent this week on why the Obama administration, with its pattern of uniform and ruthless hostility to the fossil fuels industry, has given this approval.  Even the New York Times, which is usually able to mouth a narrative planted by administration officials, has offered no explanation. Continue reading “Shell, with unexpected Arctic drilling approval, looks like Obama’s kind of oil company”

Syria: Now, the run-up to whatever “it” will or won’t be

Fuse, lit?

What the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has voted to authorize is a military operation not to exceed 90 days in duration, and without U.S. troops in a ground role.  The purpose, per the “stronger language” amendment demanded by John McCain (R-AZ), is to “change the momentum on the ground”; i.e., shift it against Assad and in favor of “moderate” opposition forces.

Who knows what might actually be done based on this authorization – if anything.  What would Congressional votes mean, in the end?  Has the McCain amendment made the beefed-up resolution harder to pass in the full Senate?  Is there a realistic chance that the House will pass a resolution authorizing military action at all?  Will Obama refrain from mounting a strike if Congress doesn’t agree?

Does anyone else notice the inanity of Continue reading “Syria: Now, the run-up to whatever “it” will or won’t be”

Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey: Pax Americana crack-up watch

Here it comes.

If you want to know what it will look like for the status quo crack-up to actually happen, as the stabilizing influence of the Pax Americana fades in the rearview mirror, a recent legislative proposal in Egypt is a good place to start.

Elder of Ziyon caught this a few days ago.  According to regional media, the upper chamber of parliament, the Shura Council, last week approved a bill submitted by MP Khaled Adbel Qader Ouda to invalidate Egypt’s 2003 accord with Cyprus on the maritime demarcation of the two nations’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs).  Ouda’s pretext for doing this is reportedly that Egypt was not “present at the signing” of Cyprus’s later (2010) EEZ accord with Israel.

As Elder notes, it is questionable Continue reading “Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey: Pax Americana crack-up watch”

Cyprus: The mouse that went boom

Yet more interesting times.

You’ve got to feel for Cyprus.  The island starts out divided between Greek Cyprus and “Turkish Northern Cyprus,” an entity created by a Turkish armed invasion in 1974 and recognized by, well, Turkey.  With her historical Greek roots, Greek Cyprus – an independent nation – has extensive exposure to Greek government bonds, and has been fighting a rearguard action throughout 2011 to prevent a faster downgrading of Cypriot public debt.  (Some US states now face a somewhat similar potential domino effect from the downgrading of US debt.)

Arms and the explosion

Back in January 2009, Cyprus was the unfortunate flag state of the M/V Monchegorsk, chartered by Iran to transport arms to Syria in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1747. Continue reading “Cyprus: The mouse that went boom”