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ARCTIC WATCH: THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES

THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
15 states sue to stop drilling plan for Arctic Refuge
After the Trump administration announced it would allow for the drilling of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), fifteen states, alongside Gwich’in tribes, are pushing back in the form of a lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that the consequences of drilling on the wildlife and environment of Alaska will affect those living in these states. The region hosts birds migrating across the states (and bringing $4 billion in birdwatching tourism to New York), and waterfowl that nest in the refuge. The states are calling for the overturning of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s record of decision that allows the auction of drilling rights, as well as the recall of the final environmental impact statement, which states that “there is no climate crisis” (APR).
 
Stoltenberg: "Under the Ice in the Arctic, You Have Some of the Most Dangerous Weapons in the World"
This statement of Nato's secretary general was made in an interview by Paul Taylor for the report “After the Ice - the Arctic and European Security". In the interview, Stoltenberg summarises the position that NATO has taken in recent years in the Arctic, with a mistrust of China and Russia hidden behind a willingness to cooperate. He stresses that the Chinese navy in the Arctic is equivalent to the entire British Royal Navy, and that this must be taken into account by the defence organisation in its planning. Similarly, he points out that most of Russia's nuclear submarine forces are based in the Arctic, in the Kola Sea. Facing these challenges, the Secretary General explained that NATO has developed its naval and air capabilities to be able to act in Arctic weather conditions, and justifies the numerous military exercises. However, he also stressed that NATO “works and strives to avoid further escalation in the region” and that “NATO always has to find a balance between being firm, predictable, and present but at the same time to do that in a defensive and measured way” (HNN). 
 
Putin's ambitious target for Arctic shipping will not be met
In his political priorities outlined in 2018, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin demanded that annual shipping on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) must reach 80 million tons by 2024. As the Barents Observer reports this week, that will not happen. Rosatom, the state-owned nuclear operator that has been tasked with developing the NSR, has requested that the Ministry of Transport lower ambitions by 25 percent, placing the target volume for 2024 at 60 million tons. The reason for this reduction is stated to be lower-than-expected oil and coal cargoes. Originally, coal exports were expected to constitute a significant share of NSR cargo volumes, but the development of the Taymyr coal fields have failed to materialize. However, Rosatom remains optimistic, and in the same communication with the Russian Transport Ministry, the state-owned company stated that the original target for 2024 will be met already in 2025—in large part due to the Vostok Oil project which is reportedly set to deliver an estimated 25 million tons annually by 2025 (BO).

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