A Russian Orthodox bishop has lowered a "holy memorial capsule" into the sea at the North Pole in an attempt to "consecrate" the Arctic and reassert Moscow's claims to the territory.
The service was held by Bishop Iakov on the ice alongside the nuclear icebreaker Rossiya during a polar expedition titled "Arctic-2012", organised by the country's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.
The metal capsule carried the blessings of the church's leader, bearing the inscription: "With the blessing of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the consecration of the North Pole marks 1150 years of Russian Statehood."
The Kremlin is keen to claim the hydrocarbon riches off its northern coast despite territorial claims from other governments, and is gradually re-militarising the area.
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TOP OF THE WORLD: NATO Rehearses For War In The Arctic
To the world’s military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources and long-dreamed-of sea-lanes. Rick Rozoff scrutinizes the feverish military activity taking place in the High North, under the official label of a joint Norwegian-NATO-Partnership for Peace endeavor, including preparedness drills against terrorist threats, mass demonstrations…and spies coming in from the cold!
Cold Response 2012 military exercise in Nordland, Norway. The yearly air land and maritime exercise is organized withing NATO with a UN mandate.
The largest military exercise in the High North, inside and immediately outside the Arctic Circle, since the end of the Cold War (and perhaps even before) was completed on March 21 in northern Norway.
Except for the crash of a Norwegian military transport plane in Sweden during its course the world would have been unaware of it.
Cold Response 2012 was conducted from March 12-21 primarily in Norway but also in Sweden with the participation of 16,300 troops from fifteen nations as part of full spectrum – air, sea, infantry and special forces – maneuvers against the backdrop of the past three years’ new scramble for the Arctic.
The term High North is a translation of the Norwegian designation nordområdene which was adopted by NATO in January of 2009 for its two-day Seminar on Security Prospects in the High North in Reykjavík, Iceland attended by the bloc’s secretary general, chairman of its Military Committee and two top military commanders, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.
Four of the five Arctic claimants – the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark – are members of NATO. The other, Russia, is not. In 2010 Norway became the first Arctic nation to move its military command center within the Arctic Circle, transferring the Norwegian Operational Command Headquarters from Stavanger to Bodø, a five-story complex built during the Cold War to withstand a nuclear attack. The preceding year Norway purchased 48 Lockheed Martin F-35 fifth generation multirole fighters.
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