arctic_blog

Greenland turns into an “apple” of contention between the USA, Denmark and China

Greenland and the Faroe Islands can become a serious obstacle in the struggle of the polar states for the Arctic resources of the planet. Despite the fact that the regions are quite small in number (50 thousand people live in Greenland, and just over 48 thousand live in the Faroe Islands), their inhabitants are more and more confident in leaning towards the idea of ​​independence from the Kingdom of Denmark.


There are several reasons for this. Among them - the rich, but still not widely used energy potential of the region, as well as the discontent of the local population with the policies of the Danish authorities. Speaking about the Faroe Islands, it is important to emphasize that the key sectors of their economy are fishing and sheep breeding, as well as tuning of small vessels. This narrowly targeted specificity does not prevent them from having a high GDP per capita - more than 45 thousand euros, which is an order of magnitude higher than in continental Denmark itself. At the same time, both Greenland and the Faroe Islands have repeatedly stated their desire to secede from the Kingdom, and even held referendums on this subject. If this happens, then the Faroe Islands, for example, in terms of GDP per capita will be in second place in the European Union after Luxembourg. In the case of Greenland, everything is more complicated. In addition to economic, the country has a strategic advantage. That is why the main Arctic battle is unfolding precisely for it. At least, the USA is by no means going to miss the chance to grab a “fatter piece” in the form of Greenland - after all, it is precisely this object of particular interest to them. The stakes in the game are high: the island’s shelf hides tens of millions of euros of energy. In addition, Greenland is of strategic importance for the United States. It is these two factors that determine the desire of the Americans to “buy out” Greenland from the Danes. This was announced in August this year by President Donald Trump. He also announced the value of the transaction - $ 600 million. However, Denmark flatly refused the deal proposed by the head of the White House, perceiving this statement as another extravagant trick of the American president.


Meanwhile, this is the third attempt by Americans to buy Greenland. True, initially, back in 1867, the States wanted to buy not only it, but also Iceland. The second attempt in 1946 was made by then-President Harry Truman, offering $ 100 million for Greenland. So Trump in this case only continues the work of his predecessors. It also asks to draw an analogy with Alaska, the successful purchase of which brought America colossal oil revenues. It seems that the current head of the White House is very fond of repeating business models that have already proven their success.


According to the Wall Street Jurnal, Washington wants to expand its military presence in the Arctic, challenging the growing confrontation between Russia and China in the Arctic. Apparently, the United States is clearly not enough, located on the island of the largest air base in Tula, where the early warning systems about a nuclear strike are located. In addition, back in 1959, the Pentagon began the development of the Ice Worm project, according to which a chain of tunnels with a length of 4000 km was to be formed in the Greenland ice, in which it was planned to place about 6000 nuclear missiles. In the event of a sudden war, they would cover about 80% of the territories of the former USSR and Eastern Europe. In 1960, the Americans began work. To disguise them (the project was hidden even from their closest co-creators - Danes), the CIA was asked to build in Greenland the so-called “city in a glacier”, in which Western scientists and engineers would solve “peaceful tasks”. The camp received the name "Century". 

The city managed to break through 21 tunnels with a total length of 21 kilometers, to place several laboratories, cafes, restrooms and even a chapel. The city was supplied with electricity by a mobile nuclear reactor. The size of the camp was 200 people. However, in 1962, work had to be curtailed due to weather conditions. The fact is that, due to the thick layer of snow, the ice roof over the reactor dropped by one and a half meters, and it had to be lifted in an emergency. As a result, the tunnels were seriously deformed. In 1964, the situation became dangerous. The city worked for a couple of years on diesel generators, and in the 1965th “Century” had to be urgently evacuated. However, if Trump is still able to negotiate with the Danes to purchase Greenland, the Americans can resume work. And this means that the island will receive another American military base, and - a secret purpose.

“Trump’s logic is urea,” said military analyst El Murid. - At one time, Washington annexed Hawaii, and then, half a century later, included them in the United States as a full state. "The Hawaiian Islands allow the States to control the Pacific and are the focal point for America’s presence in this region of the world."


The expert also emphasized that the issue of Greenland should be considered not only from the point of view of strategy, but also in the context of the US rivalry with China, which pursues its own economic interests in the Arctic. In particular, it is aimed at exploring the possibilities and development of the Northern Sea Route, the largest transport artery in the region. “China connects (or can connect) with Europe either the land corridor of the traditional Great Silk Road, or the more northern route through Russia - which, obviously, is associated with the steady penetration of the Celestial Empire into Siberia. China's maritime communications are secured by the Strait of Mollak, which can be closed by the US Navy at any time. In the near foreseeable future, China has no answer against this threat, despite the impressive pace of its construction of its fleet. The Chinese’s problem is also that the Indian Ocean is beyond the Strait of Mallaki, and the fleet of their traditional adversary, India, which has the most powerful Navy in the region, dominates there, ”explains Murid.
However, the Chinese have pretty good chances to “steal” from Trump Greenland. Unlike Washington, Beijing has long and fairly successfully mastered the region’s energy resources. Fortunately, it is impressive in Greenland: it is rich in oil, uranium, as well as rare earth metals such as neodymium, praseodymium and terbium. They are the ones that cause the greatest interest in China and the United States. Today, these metals are used for the production of heavy-duty steel and fame, and are also widely used in the oil industry. Without them, including, it is impossible to produce wind energy turbines, computers and even cars (we are talking about hybrids in this case).
It is important to note that China accounts for 95% of the global demand for this type of energy on the international market. And the USA (along with Japan and South Korea) includes their number of the largest importers. The main task of Washington is to reduce the dependence of supplies from abroad and by developing its own deposits - especially in the light of today's confrontation with the Celestial Empire.
In this regard, the Greenland field Kvanelld, which is the only major project on the island related to mining, can become a real “bone of contention” in this regard. Kvarelyeld takes the sixth place in the world in terms of uranium deposits, and the second - rare earth oxides (they contain about 11.1 million tons in the bowels of the deposit). Moreover, according to expert forecasts, the mine’s life is 37 years - based on the ore processing speed, which can be about 3 million tons per year. “These reserves can be invaluable to the United States in light of a trade dispute with China that casts doubt on the reliability of the supply of rare earths to the United States. But they are the most important material for electronics, therefore, it is in Washington’s interests to provide parallel supply channels for these metals, ”said Umar Ali, an expert at the British analytical company Mining-Technology.

Currently, the Australian company Greenland Minerals is planning to invest in the field. At the same time, the largest shareholder is the Chinese company Shenghe (it owns 12.5% ​​of the shares). However, it cannot be ruled out that the United States can “win over” the Australians, trying to block the influx of Chinese investment in the Arctic region, the expert concludes.

At the same time, one cannot but mention the extremely poorly studied mineral deposits of Greenland. We are talking about two sections of the Ilimaussak massif (Sorensen and the so-called Zone 3), the development of which no one is engaged in. Meanwhile, their reserves, according to preliminary estimates, amount to about 900 million tons of various energy resources.

Against the "management" of China in the region and Denmark. Despite fairly cool relations with Washington (especially against the background of Trump’s latest statement), Copenhagen expresses solidarity with Washington, as it fears Beijing’s growing economic power in the Arctic region. In addition, the authorities of the Kingdom are well aware that Greenland, strengthening ties with the Middle Kingdom, will increasingly distance itself from the Danes. Moreover, Greenlanders are increasingly beginning to think about becoming independent from the Danish authorities. Which, in turn, will entail not only economic, but also political problems - for example, the loss of status among the states of the Arctic Council (after all, Denmark enters there together with Greenland).

However, given the strategic interest of Trump in the purchase of Greenland, it can be assumed that the American leader sees no reason in keeping the island under the sole control of the Danes. At present, the situation seems quite stable: Nuuk, despite its potential, but not yet used to its fullest wealth of mineral resources, fish resources and a strategically important geographical position, is the “denunciation” of the Kingdom. About half of the island's budget is subsidies from the state treasury of Copenhagen, which, according to The New York Times, amount to about $ 740 billion. Per year (approximately 13 thousand dollars for each Greenlandian). 

However, expert on issues of Greenland and the Arctic at the University of Roskilde in Denmark Rasmus Kiergaard Rasmussen fears that the situation could change radically: “In recent years, the Danish government has strengthened its influence on Greenland to block Chinese investment, fearing potential dependence Greenland from China. However, Copenhagen’s intervention provoked friction with the Greenland leaders, who called it neocolonialism. Which, in turn, intensified discussions about the cost of Greenland's independence and how to pay for it. Either Greenlanders sell a lot of fish, find oil, uranium or other minerals and tax them, or they find a new Denmark, a new sponsor to cover $ 740 million. And this sponsor may well be the United States. ”

At the same time, according to the expert, it will be quite simple for Trump to “take
to support ”the leaders of the Greenland separatists, to provide them with information and financial support through their own media and NGOs, which, in turn, will help to form the necessary public moods and, ultimately, lead to the withdrawal of Greenland from the Kingdom of Denmark. It is possible that the Faroe Islands, whose inhabitants also seek independence, will face a similar scenario. And in this regard, the "economic expansion" of the same China will be for Greenland and Faroe far more profitable option than coming to the Washington region.

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