Home to 22% of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and natural gas, Russia has set its sights on the untapped resources of the Arctic. Since the 1960s, over 60 oil and natural gas fields have been discovered in the Arctic. However, freezing temperatures and hostile conditions have left these areas abandoned, leaving a minefield of valuable natural resources. But with rising temperatures comes melting ice and a significant opportunity for those who choose to pursue it.
Russia has earned a reputation for its resources-based power. “Russia historically has been a territorial and natural-resources-driven power, and it has remained so until present day,” states Agnia Grigas, author of The New Geopolitics of Natural Gas. She adds, “The focus on locking in Arctic resources and routes goes hand-in-hand with the Kremlin’s ambitions of extending its influence and great-power status beyond its territory.”.
With the abundance of undiscovered oil and natural gas now available for bidding, the Arctic’s resources have now become part of a strategic political power-play, and one that Russia does not intend to lose.