Russia scrambling to protect routes ‘of extraordinary importance’ to save oil exports

Prof Dodds warned Finland and Sweden’s application to join NATO could result in the European Arctic becoming “more tense”. He explained Russia will try to protect shipping routes “of extraordinary importance” to Russian oil exports such as the Northern Sea and Transpolar routes. He noted “Putin has been clear that the future of the Russian Federation lies within the continued extraction of oil and gas in the Russian Arctic” as he pointed out China might seek to strengthen its presence in the area as well.

Prof Dodds told Times Radio: “The first shipping route, which is of extraordinary importance to Russia, is what’s called the Northern Sea route.

“It runs literally along the top edge of the Russian Federation.

“So that’s the one that Russia is absolutely adamant about.

“It has to keep safe and secure because that’s where liquefied natural gas gets transported from Russia to the rest of the world.

“The one that is probably more interesting is what’s called the Transpolar route.

“That is the one that literally cut through the Arctic Ocean.

“As sea ice continues to recede, there is of course an expectation that the central Arctic Ocean shipping route might be of high interest to countries like China.

“It would run through international waters and therefore be beyond the control of a country like Russia.”

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He concluded: “[Russia] has invested hugely in modernising and militarising the Arctic.

“In the past, we would have said that the Arctic was a zone of peace and cooperation.

“Russia has done everything in its power to militarise that space.

“The second this is, whilst everyone’s talking about the likely impact of Finland and Sweden joining NATO, Russia has long treated Finland and Sweden as if they were NATO powers”.