United States Lags Behind Russia in Claims to the Arctic as Operations Ramp Up

First Posted: Aug 31, 2015 09:22 AM EDT

Russia has laid claims to the Arctic. Now, though, it seems as though the U.S. is falling behind other nations in the critical region.

Warming seas are creating new opportunities in the Arctic as ice melts. This means that countries are now scrambling to claim territory in the area, whether it happens to be territorial waters, transit routes, or claiming natural resources.

"As other countries in the Arctic move forward with their plans to be better prepared for what is coming in the Arctic, which is more human activity, hopefully Congress will step up and fund some of the necessary infrastructure," said Fran Ulmer, chairwoman of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, in an interview with McClatchy and Tribune Newspapers.

U.S. President Obama is actually traveling to Alaska today, on Monday. This makes him the first president to venture above the Arctic Circle while in office. This visit, in particular, will hopefully focus attention on the effects of climate change in the area, and also bring light to the economic boon that this region is becoming.

Already, there are three tugs hauling giant barges to ExxonMobil's onshore natural gas project east of Prudhoe Bay. To the east, ships and rigs linger in a spot where Royal Dutch Shell began drilling for oil this month. And across America's maritime border, container ships and military vessels travel across the route that Russia hopes to turn into a kind of new Suez Canal.

In order to become a presence in the Arctic, though, the U.S. needs to invest money. Already, Russia has taken steps by building 10 new search-and-rescue stations along half of the Arctic shoreline. Whether the United States will catch up or not remains a mystery.

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