About a quarter of the world's hydrocarbon resources are concentrated in the Russian part of the Arctic. Unique gas fields have been discovered on the shelves of the Barents and Kara Seas. Fishery complex produces about 15% of the volume of aquatic biological resources of the country. The key role in the development of a single transcontinental transport system belongs to the Northern Sea Route, which serves as the shortest route between the European and Far Eastern sea and river ports of Siberia.
The special geopolitical position and wealth of its raw material deposits have turned the Arctic into one of the main points of attraction not only for the Arctic states, but also for the very remote countries of the Northern Hemisphere.
The observer status of the Arctic Council was obtained by China, Japan, South Korea, India and Singapore, the Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain, Germany, France, Poland, and Italy. In an effort to assert its institutional involvement in Arctic affairs, the EU also claims the status of a permanent observer in the Arctic Council.
The states and their coalitions that claim to participate in decision making on the problems of the Arctic, without de jure questioning the jurisdiction of the coastal Arctic countries, are de facto trying to find ways to change the existing situation. The desire of many states to demonstrate their right to independently explore the Arctic, the development of the Arctic field makes it possible to predict a growing confrontation, especially between the main world geopolitical players: Russia, the USA, China, the states of the Arctic region and their coalitions. Confrontation can be carried out both within the framework of diplomatic negotiations and with the use of a wide range of technologies of modern conflicts.
For now, the Arctic is considered a relatively calm region. Thanks to the professionalism of Russian diplomats within the Arctic Council, many important agreements for Russia have been signed and implemented: on cooperation in aviation and maritime search and rescue in the Arctic, on cooperation in the field of preparedness and response to oil pollution in the Arctic. In total, within the framework of the Arctic Council, Russia participates in 80 projects. The UN Commission recently recognized the validity of our application for the continental shelf of the Sea of Okhotsk. Now it has actually become the Russian inland sea.
The opinions of a number of experts claim that the only significant open question on the Arctic remains the definition of the external borders and the delimitation of the continental shelf of a number of coastal states outside the 200-mile zones remain quite placating. At the same time, it is believed that this issue will not give rise to disputes and conflicts regarding access to the natural resources of the Arctic, most of which are within the uncontested exclusive economic zones of the coastal states. At the same time, the world has repeatedly faced the fact that the position of the West has changed dramatically, and this led to a radical transformation of situations, to a cynical denial of the sovereign rights of individual states, including the use of military force against them. The West defends its national interests resolutely and firmly, not paying attention to the norms of international law when they contradict its interests. In the meantime, the situation in the Arctic, in contrast to problem areas, is relatively calm.
However, the world is changing, and strategies are changing, allowing to impose their will on the enemy not only by military-force methods. In the context of globalization and the information revolution, the catalyst for sharp and unpredictable changes in the Arctic region can serve as events associated with the ongoing hybrid war against Russia.
Given the volatility and unpredictability of the international situation, we should not lose sight of the possibility of implementing the strategy of indirect action in the course of a hybrid war that is unfolding against Russia in the Arctic.
In modern conflicts, the use of technology that is gradually allowing the preparation of conditions for an avalanche-like development of the situation is becoming more and more common. The calculation is made on the fact that everything should “go on its own”, without the noticeable participation of the main initiator of the conflict. According to one of the authors of the Anglo-Saxon strategy of indirect actions by the British military theorist B.L. Garth, "you can arrange various relatively minor things, all the time reminiscent of the enemy, but he himself will not be visible."
The strategy of indirect action in the Arctic is only a link in the global strategy of the United States, the purpose of which is to establish world domination and achieve guaranteed access to all vital areas.
Applied to the Arctic region for many years, the United States and some other NATO countries have been coordinating their political, military, economic, informational efforts to solve a single task - to expand their economic presence in the North, to achieve the internationalization of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and eventually minimize the role of Russia in the region. At the same time, we note that the issue of controlling the SMP for Russia is of critical importance, since it is so far the only transport route capable of integrating remote areas of the Far North of the country and their resource potential into the national economy. Therefore, Russia cannot afford to place under economic control economic relations between certain regions of the country carried out under the NSR.
The leading role in countering the legitimate interests of Russia in the Arctic belongs to the United States. The report of the Chief of Staff of the US Navy Admiral D. Greenert “Road Map for the Arctic 2014–2030” defines specific goals and objectives for various services and departments of the US Navy and their allies. The military infrastructure of the USA and Canada is already being created and developed in the Arctic. In particular, the United States decided to build two new advanced coast guard bases in Alaska in Barrow and Nome. The possibilities of ensuring the constant presence of an aircraft carrier group in the Arctic and the allocation of additional patrol ships are being considered. Enhanced anti-submarine defense efforts and the provision of deep landing operations. In recent years, the scale and intensity of operational and combat training activities of NATO Allied Forces in the Arctic has increased. Every year, 3-4 expeditions of multipurpose nuclear submarines to the Arctic are carried out, at least three departures of the base patrol aircraft take place weekly aviation.
In the Arctic sector and in the border area of the Russian Federation, the activities of the US special services and their NATO allies have intensified. In addition to military forces and assets, Norwegian research vessels are involved in exploration, various non-governmental organizations are used, especially environmental ones, as was the case, for example, in 2013 during the Greenpeace action on the Prirazlomnaya platform. The presence of foreign researchers is noted in areas of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago and in the throat of the White Sea, where Russia is conducting tests of its nuclear submarines. In Norway, they talk about plans to change the demilitarized status of Spitsbergen, the development of the concept of the use of national armed forces in the Arctic region is being completed.
The position of NATO on military presence in the Arctic has not yet been determined. In this regard, the question of the policy of the alliance in the Arctic was not reflected either in the strategic concept of the alliance adopted in 2010, or in the decisions of subsequent block summits. NATO’s lack of involvement in solving the problems of the Arctic is associated with different approaches and unequal interests of the Allies. But supporters of a more visible NATO presence in northern latitudes are not abandoning attempts to change the situation, appealing to the fact that the five NATO member states (USA, Canada, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) and two important partners (Sweden and Finland) are the Arctic countries. Thus, it is proposed to expand the number of NATO member states participating in the Arctic confrontation with Russia.
Along with military activities in the northern latitudes, Washington is increasing its efforts in the information sphere, using the means of traditional and public diplomacy to consolidate allies and undermine Russia's positions. The breeding ground for the implementation of the preparatory stage of the strategy of indirect action in the Arctic is a complex of hybrid threats that can serve as a catalyst for increasing the confrontation between Russia and other aspirants to the riches of the region.
The main hybrid threats to the Russian Federation in the Arctic zone are due to a combination of the following military, political, economic, informational factors: the intensification of the military activities of the Arctic states and their allies, the growth of its scale in the Arctic and adjacent waters; implementation of ideas about common and equal access to the use of the Northern Sea Route and the resources of the Arctic for all subjects of the world community; the implementation by the Arctic states and their allies of measures of an informational nature to discredit the Russian Federation; Norway’s efforts to force the Russian Federation out of traditional fishing areas in the Barents and Norwegian Seas; the desire of the United States and its allies to establish control over the objects of the nuclear complex of the Russian Federation in the Arctic; the desire of the leaders of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region to get bases for their naval forces in the Arctic zone, etc.
Given the tendency to expand the number of participants claiming their share in the Arctic, it is possible to predict the formation of situational coalitions in the composition of states, the relations between which are not always examples of friendship and mutual understanding. But given the unresolved number of legal aspects in relation to the problems of the Arctic, it is quite feasible to coordinate the activities of individual states in order to weaken Russia's position and achieve a favorable decision for them by international institutions. The actions of such rivals in Russia are characterized by purposeful, adaptive use of both military-force methods and concerted steps to economically weaken the enemy and use disruptive information technologies. The use of indirect asymmetric actions and methods of conducting hybrid wars against the whole state, as well as with respect to its individual large regions, makes it possible to deprive the opposing side of actual sovereignty without the seizure of territories by military force.
Thus, a hybrid war is being waged against Russia in the Arctic, which requires appropriate “hybrid” countermeasures. A part of such measures is envisaged in the document adopted by the Security Council of the Russian Federation in 2008 - “The Foundations of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic for the Period to 2020 and the Further Perspective”. The Foundations reflects the main objectives and strategic priorities of the state policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic, the main tasks, measures and mechanisms for its implementation. Among the tasks in the field of ensuring military security is “to bring the capabilities of border agencies in line with the nature of the threats and challenges of the Russian Federation in the Arctic.”
Based on the spirit and the letter "Basics", Russia plans to create an Arctic grouping of troops before 2020, to protect its economic and political interests in the region. The document refers to the strengthening of the border troops of the Federal Security Service of Russia and the need to create a coast guard of the Russian Arctic borders.
So far, there are no obvious signs indicating the presence of a consolidated anti-Russian strategy aimed at realizing the interests of the Arctic states and countries that are far from the Arctic. However, for a hybrid war in the Arctic as the largest geopolitical region, the following is important: nothing prevents each of the participants from realizing their intentions without the direct use of armed forces and even without declaring war at all. If the interests of a group of participants coincide, it may be advisable to create their situational coalition to "push through" the necessary decision.
Therefore, it is also important for Russia to take advantage of such coalitions, using the differences between different actors. In this context, it is also important to use the possibilities of the SCO, the EAU, cooperation with Japan, South Korea. A long-term cooperation program should be developed with neutral Sweden and Finland and include Arctic cooperation in order to prevent these states from being involved in anti-Russian maneuvers.
ARCS OF INSTABILITY
The strategic importance of the Arctic region determines its coverage by the so-called “system of arcs of instability”, which is the main tool by which the most important system security problems of Eurasia in general and the Russian Federation in particular are created. According to Professor Vladimir Kolotov, “the system of instability arcs creates a geopolitical“ climate ”that fully contributes to the conduct of controlled regional destabilization.” This system covers the territory located between four oceans: the Pacific, Indian, Atlantic and Arctic. It consists of eight active segments of varying degrees of "readiness."
The Arctic segment of the arc of instability is in the process of becoming. The interests of the parties are defined, attempts are made to ensure their compatibility on the basis of an internationally recognized legal framework, which, in turn, has a high degree of underdevelopment, which creates uncertainty regarding the rights of participants to take advantage of various parts of the Arctic field. As part of the US-declared strategy of geopolitical dominance in the Arctic segment, in parallel with the build-up of forces and the creation of military infrastructure, operations are being launched in other areas of preparing and waging a hybrid war.
Within the framework of the hybrid war that the West is waging against Russia, the Arctic theater occupies a special place, determined by a number of objective factors. Among them: extreme climatic conditions; the large length of the coastline and the focal nature of the deployment of border guard forces; low population density; the lack of a single industrial and business complex and remoteness from the main industrial centers, high resource intensity and dependence of economic activities and the sustenance of the population on the supply of fuel, food and essential goods from other regions; low stability of ecological systems that determine the biological balance and climate of the Earth, and their dependence on even insignificant anthropogenic influences.
An important factor of a subjective nature is the still insufficiently coordinated system of government in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. The imperfection of state regulation measures in the economic and social spheres has led to a critical state of basic transport, industrial, border, information, scientific and social infrastructures. Disproportions of regional development are growing, there is an outflow of population from the region.
The danger is recognized by the authorities, and as a result of the energetic measures taken, the situation is rectified. However, the competitive potential of the Arctic zone of Russia is still far from being fully used.
The strategy and objectives of the hybrid war are formulated with due regard for the vulnerability of the Arctic part of Russia for the application of hybrid technologies aimed at destabilizing the situation in large areas.
First, as already mentioned, the most important goal is to undermine the economic potential of the state. This predetermines the place of Russia's economic facilities in the Arctic, communications and control systems as the primary goals of hybrid warfare. Creates forces and means to influence the objects of this group, including the forces of special operations, cyber weapons, organized intelligence of the theater. The expansion of the use of UAVs for intelligence purposes should be predicted.
Secondly, the length of the coastline and the small population of large land areas complicates the task of protecting the border, preventing the penetration of sabotage and reconnaissance groups of special operations forces.
Thirdly, an important feature of the theater is the high sensitivity of the environment in the Arctic to environmental factors, which makes it possible to predict the use of special operations forces in a hybrid war to disrupt ecological balance. Here we can fully expect the use of the nonlinearity feature of hybrid warfare, when the consequences of using indirect methods related to the impact on the region’s ecology lead to disproportionately high catastrophic consequences that can cause an avalanche-like change in the military-strategic and political environment. This may be, for example, acts of sabotage on oil-producing objects, on pipelines, on transport. A high degree of threat is carried by cyber operations against the control systems of the above objects.
When developing protective measures in the Arctic region, one should resolutely abandon the traditional linear vision of war, which implies the possibility of establishing direct and proportional links between cause and effect, disturbing influence and results. In a hybrid war built on a non-linear strategy, small impacts can provide significant results. The non-linearity factor of a hybrid war significantly changes the degree of confidence in predicting the possible consequences of a conflict both on the scale of the Arctic region and globally.
In a hybrid war, the consequences of using indirect methods create an extremely dangerous situation, often uncontrolled by the initiators. As a result of the disruption of the direct relationship between cause and effect, extensive areas of uncertainty are created related to the actions of heterogeneous actors, and the actions of one of them can cause an avalanche-like change in the entire military-strategic and political situation. These and some other factors create serious obstacles in trying to predict the course and outcome of a hybrid war.
Fourth, hybrid war is illegitimate. All existing laws of warfare are designed, as a rule, for conflicts between two warring parties, usually states pursuing interests that each of the participants considers legitimate. For traditional warfare, the UN adopted the notion of “aggression”; there are laws protecting the rights of combatants, prisoners of war, and civilians prohibiting the use of certain types weapons. The existing legal and regulatory framework serves as a tool for policy makers and military leaders. There is nothing like a hybrid war.
And finally, it requires clarification of the concept of "parties to the conflict", who in the war act as carriers of the conflict. A hybrid war in the Arctic is not declared, the parties to the conflict are not defined, while it is traditionally considered that conflict as a phase of contradiction is possible only when its parties are represented by subjects. Where there is no subject - there can be no conflict.
If in a hybrid war one of the obvious subjects is the state - the victim of aggression, then it’s not easy to define the aggressor as the other side of the conflict.
At the same time, the fact of hybrid aggression becomes not immediately obvious. This thesis should be primarily attributed to the important components of a hybrid war - information and cyber warfare. In both cases, it is difficult to determine the subject of aggression. These and some other factors create serious obstacles in forecasting the situation and strategic planning of measures to counter the hybrid war in the Arctic.
"Friction of War"
Given the uniqueness of the Arctic theater, the phenomenon of the friction of war introduced by K. Clausewitz is of great importance for understanding hybrid war as a sphere of uncertain and unreliable. In his writings, the military theorist rightly emphasized that "friction is the only concept that, in general, distinguishes a real war from a paper war." In other words, in war from conceived to realized in practice, there can be a huge distance. The validity of this judgment is especially true for a hybrid war in the Arctic, given the unpredictability and uncertainty of the conflict, the particular sensitivity of potential targets to small impacts that could lead to major consequences. Features of hybrid war as a conflict of uncertain and unreliable, in which diverse forces and means are involved, turn friction into a source of significant disturbing influences on the course of actions, which, under the influence of war friction, often become unmanageable and even uncontrollable process.
For traditional war, there are seven sources of general friction: danger; physical stress; uncertainty and inaccuracy of information on the basis of which decisions are made; random events that are impossible to predict; physical and political limitations in the use of force; unpredictability resulting from interaction with the enemy; gaps between causes and consequences of war.
For a hybrid war in the Arctic region, the list of sources of friction can be expanded.
First, given the scale of the economic interests of states claiming their share in the Arctic field, the geography of their location and the specific approach to existing problems, psychological stress and stress increase, which contributes to an increased likelihood of error.
It is known that many modern conflicts occur on intercivilizational faults. The influence of this factor on the possible exacerbation of the situation in the Arctic is increasing due to the expansion of the civilizational diversity of applicants for the Arctic field.
Secondly, a powerful source of disturbing influences, provoking failures in control systems, are actions in cyberspace directed against control systems at oil and gas production facilities and pipelines.
Thirdly, in the information war, misinformation is already widely used to manipulate the activities of environmental groups, which contributes to creating an atmosphere of chaos and confusion.
And finally, as a result of the friction, it would seem that insignificant phenomena and facts occurring at the tactical level gain the power and ability of a strategic catalyst capable of influencing the course of the entire military campaign. There are cascade amplification mechanisms that allow small events to launch completely unexpected and unpredictable processes that cannot be quantified in the framework of any theory. In the Arctic sector in a hybrid war against Russia, man-made man-made disasters at civilian and military sites, attacks on communications with a large number of victims, disruption of the supply of vital products and funds to remote regions of the Arctic can make catalysts-catalysts.
The combination of sources of friction usually turns out to be more than their simple sum, since some types of friction interact with others, which further increases their destructive results.
Friction in the zones of uncertainty in the hybrid war is associated with the manifestation of many accidents and causes phenomena that cannot be taken into account in advance. This increases the likelihood of random incidents that increase the scope of the conflict. This is especially dangerous in a hybrid war in the Arctic, in which the interests of the nuclear powers are involved.
Thus, sources of friction substantially determine the structural properties of hybrid warfare, the effectiveness of operations, the strategy and tactics of counteraction.
As in any other war, in the hybrid war in the Arctic, there are peculiar "lubricants" that can reduce friction in any military vehicle, including the hybrid war. This is the use of flexible adaptive political strategies in diplomacy. It is important to have combat experience and military training of the participants, special equipment, military equipment and weapons, rational deployment of forces and means, strict discipline, thoughtful information strategy, early creation of effective channels for obtaining, transmitting, processing and analyzing data on the situation, etc.
For the hybrid war, a unique “lubricant” is the complete absence of its legitimacy and subordination to international norms and rules, which makes it permissible on this basis to carry out the dirtiest provocations involving special forces, using manipulated terrorist groups and organized crime. The use of bacterial agents against animals, such as anthrax, foot and mouth disease, plague, glanders, false rabies, etc., cannot be excluded.
The Arctic is an extremely tidbit for geopolitical opponents of Russia, which have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to violate any international agreements, if this is in line with their national interests. Historical experience does not allow counting on unconditional respect for the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Russia enshrined in the treaties in the Arctic waters and on the shelf. Such factors, along with well-known problems in substantiating the outer borders of Russia's continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean outside the exclusive economic zone, create conditions for attempts by the Arctic, some non-Arctic states and their coalitions to use a sophisticated indirect action strategy based on the formation and implementation of the spectrum to pressure Russia hybrid threats.
The effectiveness of combating a hybrid war in the Arctic will depend on how fully it is possible to foresee and take into account its features in order to adequately and quickly adapt to the rapidly changing environment, which will allow ahead of rivals and prevent the transformation of challenges and risks into real dangers and threats to the national interests of the state. vital region.