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tv   Ali Velshi on Target  Al Jazeera  September 1, 2015 10:30pm-11:01pm EDT

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i'm ali velshi "on target", the new cold war between america and russia. finally the focus on the arctic, it may be too little too late. and how china is making a play for the frozen north too president obama today became the first u.s. president to set foot in alaska's arctic region, it's in the far north the state where the effects of climate change are apparent. the president is calling for urgent action to combat manmade
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global warming and is doing it against a backdrop of receding ice sheets that covered the land and sea for much of the year. the president's detractors, especially among environmentalists are crying foul over his administration's decision in august to permit shell to restart exploratory drilling for oil and gas in the arctic. all that receding ice may be bad for mother earth, but a boom for countries eager to take advantage of energy resources and waterways that are accessible to year round shipping. in august, russia staked a claim to 463 thousands of territory, extending the continental shelve 350 nautical miles from shores. other nations bordering the poll, united states, canada, denmark, norway are unlikely to support the claim. it's up to the united nations to rule on russia's bid. these claims on the arctic do
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not happen in a vacuum. relations between russia and the west deteriorated to the worst level since the cold war. russia's annexation of crimea, and support of rebels in eastern ukraine triggered the cold war with n.a.t.o., the u.s. dominated military alliance. n.a.t.o. responded with deployment in member states bordering russia and ukraine, like poland and romania, and the arctic, norway and nearby countries, russia is testing the resolve with hundreds of military flights violating neighbours air space, and the cold war is spreading north into the arctic circle, where the competition for precious natural resources and polar shipping lanes is picking up new urges say. >> it's 10:00a.m. on an autumn morning in transylvania. more than 1,000 romanian soldiers are engaged in war games, under the guidance of
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marines. it's a routine exercise in military readiness. but demonstrations of work have taken on a new urgency for the west. here, beside the mountains in romania. these soldiers are training for battle. a 7-hour drive. from ukraine, where russian backed separatists set off the worst confrontation between moscow and the west. >> romanians and eastern europeans who remember the aggressions are worried about the west's ability and willingness to stop an emboldened president. >> it's a cold war reality. we live in a new cold war, but is in danger for real war. >> not everyone shares the former romanian president's fears that moscow and the west are bound for armed conflict.
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and yet an escalating military presence on both sides left little room for error. in october. n.a.t.o. scrambled f-16s. when russia launched a number of combat aircraft near the air space. >> nearly 2 dozen russian bombers and fighters swooped over the north sea. the black sea, the gulf of finland and the baltic sea. that intercept was captured here, showing the fighter jet, the fu 34, which travels more than 2500 miles, carrying a pay load of eight tonnes of precision-guided weapons >> essentially what it is, is the cat and mouse game played during the original cold war, where each side probes the offenses of the other the. in order to see how it reacts. that game puts pressure on n.a.t.o. outposts like the air
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base in buddha, where the forces cooperated with the russian neighbours. >> despite the relations with russia, n.a.t.o. used the command center to be the eyes and ears in the sky. norway runs the operation from the military headquarters, which it moved 600 miles north to buddha, becoming the only country with a military headquarters inside the arctic circle. one big reason for the move, to keep better tabs on russia, buried deep inside an arctic mountain, norwegian officer track the bombers. it conjures sup memories of the 1950 surveillance. brinksmanship between n.a.t.o. and russia existed. the crisis in ukraine may have
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fundamentally redefined moscow's relations with the west. >> without question the ukranian crisis pushed russia-west relationship over the cliff into something that is qualitatively different from what we had for most of the post cold war period. >> in a speech given to the parliament. announcing the annexation of crimea, he outlined the new vision for the kremlin, moscow would protect what it considers its sphere of influence. >> there was one part in which he warned russia's western colleague that if you compress a spring to the limit at some point it will spring back hard. and that is the new foreign policy of russia, springing back against a perceived slight and encroachment by the west. >> in november, the former leader mick highly gorbachev weighed in, saying the expansion of n.a.t.o., and war in the middle east contributed to the collapse of trust between russia
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and the west. >> the world is on the brink of a new cold war. some are saying that it has already begun. >> the stakes of the cold war are about more than just territory and influence. it's about money. battles are fought. the arctic is home to a third of oil and a third of gas. eight nations lay claim to the fast-melting landscape, including russia, canada and the united states. they, alongside china are all pursuing now matters. >> they have been fuelled by hydrocarbons from the subarctic. they need more hydrocarbons to come out of the arctic. >> in 2007 russia staked a claim
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to billions worth of arctic oil and gas. two submarines planted a tit an yam russian flag on the floor under the north pole. canada and the u.s. scoffed, comparing russia's play to a 15th century land grab. but the move underscores the importance of region. to get a look i headed north, way north, to the northern most town in the world to an island in the arctic. many nations are eyeing the coal mining settlement as a base in this arctic frontier. i'm here in norway, we are goeser to the north poll. here, they generate electricity by burning coal and are looking for a place to put the co2 emissions, that come from burning coal. they were trying to find a
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reservoir to put it underground and came upon natural gas. >> finds like this whet the appetite of prospectors. energy is not the only factor. it's about who controls the high sees. which are increasingly accessible because of global morning. shipping lanes created by the melting of ice. a cargo ship typically sales through the suez canal. it shortens the trip. the number of shippers has soared in recent years. what russia needs now is arctic ports and lineses of communication. it's a big reason why moscow unveiled an ambitious plan to build 13 new bases and radar stations in former outposts across the arctic. >> it would not only be
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lucrative, but beneficial for russia. in a sense that russia would control a key shipping artery for the global economy. >> it is under norwegian control and presents a communication hub for russia and other polar nations increasingly interested in the high north. >> that's because of the placement we have with more activity in the polar sea. and we are in the center of that. >> driving down one of the two robes. they have the look and feel to the alpine ski resort. yet it's a key listening post and reference center in the high north, where 59% was melted away since 1979. melting ice in the arctic, a contrast between the frees in relations. a freeze that puts old car enemies on a path towards a new
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round of battles, whose lend game is less about ideology, and more about economic control and financial supremacy. >> next i'm talking to a man who days the arctic is the next front. the latest attempt at a land grab is a total farce. farce.
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russia in early august laid claim to 463,000 miles of arctic territory, a bid ruled n by the united nations. russia submitted a similar claim in 2002. the u.n. rejected it for lack of support. rather than debate the merits of the claim, i want to talk about
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what it represents to the rest of the world. some say it's the latest example of russia waving a new cold war. some rejected that, he wrote an opinion piece for reuters headlined why russia's latest attempt at a land grab is a farce. i'm joined from the officers of carnegie endowment in washington. >> i wanted you to listen to the story i put in it, with all the reasons staked that russia is after something, an expansionist russia. you can argue there's reasons, a spring idea for it's vladimir putin's influence of the world. how do you argue that this arctic thing is not part of a russian policy. >> thank you for having me. one of the things we need to look at, there's a difference between what russia has done with the claim in the arctic and what russia did in the ukraine a
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year ago. one thing that makes this different is russia is divided by international law. that is one aspect that i think is a positive development in the way russia has made the claim. we also need to reiterate that russia is not the only country making the claim through the united nations. russia - denmark made the claim. we expect canada to make a claim with overlapping territories. the united nations will have to look at the claims. it will be a 10-15 process. whether there is a scientific basis behind the claims. we are a long way off from russia taking the territory. >> what do you make of the fact that russia has reopened 12 old military bases in the arctic? >> i think that the devil is in the details when you look at
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this. on the one hands, russia has tremendous ambitions in the arctic. it has ambitions to be an oil and gas exporter from the arctic. and it has some of these new bases and these upgraded facilities that they are putting on the coastline. they are, you know, geared for the - to assist in search and rescue, and be ports for the maritime transportation routes that you mentioned. one of the biggest problems is that the russian economy is in a state of collapse. the oil prices are at the lowest level in years. this will impede the russian's ability to develop the oil resources and the gas resources they have up there. but the russian economy is contracting by 4%, 5% next year. so the russian budget is shrinking, they are laying off state employees, it's unclear
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where they'll get the money to put this. >> part of the contraction is because of the sanctions with the west. part of it is because of the drop in the price of oil. i look at to this way. why would you say - let me argue that, is it because of russia's domestic situation that may be the expansionist threats need to be taken seriously? >> i think we can't eliminate the threats, and some of the incursions that happen, you know, in norway and over the season, they are dangerous. but russia is very much playing for a win. this is an area where, you know, it is abiding by international law. it is not trying to stoke anything up immediately with the west. and this is very much a diversion. the russian economy, russian people are not happy. vladimir putin's numbers are high. they are concerned about the war in the ukraine, it is not going well. they are concerned about sons
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brought into the war. and so i say this is very much an effort to divert attention from some of those domestic problems without doing anything. it's up to itiations now. >> it's -- it's up to the united nations now. >> it's interesting that the united states senators are split, one saying it's a failure of international strategy, the other making the point you are making, russia is following the rules, they are not just moving into crimea, they are plying to the united nations to see if they have a scientific basis to claim more land. in your column you make recommendations about what the united states should do to keep russia in check in the arctic or other areas whether vladimir putin wants to flex muscles, whatever motivations may be. there's an issue in the arctic with an ability to do anything. >> i agree. it's a wake-up call to the united states to transfer into an arctic nation.
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if you don't live in alaska, you don't think of yourself as an arctic state. we have 700,000 american citizens living in the arctic, second to russia, we are not stepping up to the plate. we have one arctic - one ice breaker capable of going through the arctic year round. they have been invested in it, no plans or resources to fund the next generation. russia has more. we should have had a wake up call in 2011. they had to break open, to deliver fuel. we didn't have the capability back then. >> every other arctic nation has more ice breakers. >> it does. it has them deployed in areas where they can be deployed more quickly. >> in my story - we had vladimir
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putin - part of their foreign policy. it sounds a lot like what germany said before world war ii. does that not worry you who shouldn't dismiss this. >> i think it is. i think it is worrying, and that is a reason we put more resources into eastern europe, that we didn't have a few years ago. >> and so i do think that that rhetoric is disturbing. i think it also has disturb said many neighbours, not just those in eastern europe, but disturbed much ints neighbours, you know, in other parts of the former soviet union. the policies, they do - they are a concern. they are causing russia foreign policy problems in its neighbourhood. >> good discussion. thank you for joining us. >> russia is not the only
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country. another wants in too. that's next. that's next.
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russia is not the only country competing against the west to get a foothold in the
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arctic, so is china. the prize - new shipping lanes and 13% of undiscovered oil and natural gas. melting polar icecaps are unlocking new ice caps to the region, the trick is to be there before the ice is gone three factors matter in real estate and geopolitics - location, location, location. and for those interested in water front property with breath-taking views, plenty of wildlife and the potential for future riches, this island could be a hidden gem. up here in the high norwegian arctic it seems there's nothing but land. little is for sale, save for a parcel on a mountain across the bay behind me. you can't see it for the snow and the fog. what is interesting is a chinese businessman wants to buy that land. there is little economic value in owning land up here today.
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one wonders whether it's of greater strategic value? local officials say chinese real estate tycoon recently bought the mountain. it is located here, across from an fjord. more than 1200 miles north of oslo, and halfway between the north pole and norway. over the next three years, one of china's richest men plans to put in additional bids for land across scandinavia in denmark and sweden. the company did not respond to inquiries about his interest in the area. norwegians say he has sparked alarm over chinese-arctic am bigses. melting ice is unlocking shipping routes and billions in oil and gas. many see the real estate interests as a back door for
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china to get into the high north. >> any kind of discussion about a potential way of getting your foot into the arctic is interesting for a lot of states. we see that here, especially. and especially in this discussion reflecting local sentiment, a prominent norwegian newspaper published a column calling wong is straw man for the communist party. >> this is not the only place that is attracting interest. as tensions ramp up between russia and the west, an old soviet outpost is drawing moscow's attention. find out why, we jumped in a boat and headed there by way of the baron sea. there's no roads that connect the settlements. here in this russian coal settlement, the hallmarks of a bygone soviet era are
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everywhere. >> maybe if there was incentives, our goal is communism. yes. of course our goal is not communism today. just a memory for the period of russia. >> reporter: like the old soviet days, this settlement receives supplies and food imports from moscow. despite the fact that the amount of coal produced here has declined dramatically over the years. that does not mine it is not valuable. >> the soviet demographic policy put settlements over russia and the soviet union that in a market economy is difficult to sustain. if some of the settlements in the far north, the bases can acquire a strategic significance, so much the better. with 13% of the world's undiscovered oil and a third of natural gas, many here think
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russia is holding on to barons berg to keep the russia over. >> the politics, the being here is very important for them. >> that means supporting settlements even if a few lived there. >> if there's a settlements, if it had been a flag in the snow that is something the kremlin would seek to explore. >> today only a hardy crop of 400 russians and ukrainians are left. after conflict in ukraine, new tensions merge here. locals feared fist fights could break outs between russians and ukrainians, deep inside the mines. >> it's difficult for me. my parents are in ukraine. that's why it's difficult. >> this new cold war is putting strains on those like
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constantine, a cold miner who game to barons berg learning he could make four times as much as he earnt in ukraine. and like the chinese business tycoons and prospectors, he left home to boost his earnings in a frigid region shaping up as the next battle ground in a new cold war that's the show for today, i'm ali velshi, thank you for joining us. joining us. al jazeera america gives you the total news experience anytime, anywhere. more on every screen. digital, mobile, social. visit follow @ajam on twitter. and like aljazeera america on
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