Since the beginning of 2023, political analysts everywhere have been trying to answer the question of whether or not the Russian-Ukrainian war will end this year. To me the answer is obvious. A range of political and economic factors will prolong the war through the end of this year and probably the end of the next. The scope of the conflict is far wider than Russia and Ukraine. This is not only because it is a proxy war between two superpowers. It is not even just a conflict over Ukraine. The territorial scope of the war extends far beyond Ukraine’s borders and even beyond Europe to other regions. One major front is the North Pole.
The North Pole is more than a vast barren expanse of snow and ice. It is an enormous repository of natural resources, many yet to be discovered. Its reserves of oil and natural gas are estimated at no less than a fourth of the known energy reserves on the planet. So far, 62 trillion cubic metres of natural gas and nine billion tons of oil have been discovered there. And that is, as it were, the tip of the iceberg. The North Pole is a treasure trove many times more valuable than Ukraine is to either the US or Russia. It would be no exaggeration to say that whoever controls the North Pole could control the world.
If the US had deliberately provoked Russia with its measures to annex Ukraine to NATO and to bring that alliance’s missiles systems to Russia’s borders, its purpose was to lure Russia into a protracted war on Ukrainian territory in order to wreak military and economic attrition on Russia. The US would thus ensure it remained uncontested in its bid to control the North Pole. True, other countries apart from Russia and the US extend into the polar region. Canada, Norway and Greenland do. However, it is the two superpowers that are locked in battle. And Washington plans on making it a long one in order to keep Russia bogged down. That is why the US is so determined to pour more and more weapons into Ukraine and go on stoking the conflict.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 26 January, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.