The White House released a new Arctic strategy on Friday that calls to “enhance” the US military presence in the region to counter Russia and China.
As the Pentagon has shifted its focus toward so-called “great power competition” with Russia and China, the US military has identified the Arctic as a potential future battleground.
The security section of the White House strategy says the US will “enhance and exercise both our military and civilian capabilities in the Arctic as required to deter threats and to anticipate, prevent, and respond to both natural and human-made incidents.”
As part of the enhanced military presence, the strategy calls for more exercises with allies in the region to “deter aggression in the Arctic, especially from Russia.” The strategy accuses China of trying “to increase its influence in the Arctic through an expanded slate of economic, diplomatic, scientific, and military activities.”
NATO is looking to expand more into the Arctic, which it calls its “northern flank.” The military alliance’s presence in the region could get a boost if Turkey signs off on Sweden and Finland’s prospective membership, as both countries have territory in the Arctic.
The strategy calls for increased cooperation with other Arctic nations but says cooperation with Russia is “virtually impossible” due to the war in Ukraine. “Over the coming decade, it may be possible to resume cooperation under certain conditions. Russia’s continued aggression makes most cooperation unlikely for the foreseeable future,” the strategy says.
Branches of the US military have also released strategies outlining an increased presence in the Arctic. The US Army released a strategy document last year that said the Arctic has the “potential to become a contested space where United States’ great power rivals, Russia and China, seek to use military and economic power to gain and maintain access to the region at the expense of US interests.”