It’s time to draw borders on the Arctic Ocean

It’s time to draw borders on the Arctic Ocean

I’m on an island near the North Pole and
I’m here to find out who owns the Arctic. As the ice melts more and more in this region, you can see just how dramatic the ice has been shrinking. One of these countries has shown that they’re willing to fight for it. Russia’s making a new push into the Arctic. This is the Wild West. Investment opportunities opening up
in sort of an unusual area: the Russian Arctic. The Arctic region has strategic
and economic importance. The pace of melting is only getting faster. Russia projecting its power. Use diplomacy to avoid further conflict
in the High North. So, I’m not allowed to take my camera down into the mine. So
I’ve been given this explosion-proof super fortified camera. In case it
explodes, it won’t cause a death fire for the entire community. This coal mine is owned by the Russian government, it’s in a town with Russian flags, and the bust of a Russian Communist revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin. But, this isn’t Russia. It’s Barentsburg, on the island of
Svalbard near the North Pole. It’s a place that exists for strategic reasons, not for making money. In fact it loses money. Has for decades. Russia funds this place because for them, it means influence in this region. A frozen ocean, that is melting more and more every year due to the changing climate. This is what the Arctic Ocean looked like in September 1984. Fast-forward thirty two
years and this is what it looks like: September 2016. Most of the world sees
this as a looming disaster, but for the Arctic nations this change means an
opportunity: Access to a brand new ocean. Here’s what geologists think oil and gas
resources might look like in the Arctic. The US Geological Survey estimates that
the region holds 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13%
of its oil. These resources are still remote and
costly to access but they’re more accessible every year and suddenly this
desolate region is very interesting to the world. New shipping routes are also
opening up and this ocean, that was once frozen, is now navigable for longer
periods every summer, cutting weeks off the trips between Asian and Western
markets. The topic of borders in the Arctic region is a little bit complex
and it’s an issue that’s still open for discussion and negotiation. Currently
the border lines in the Arctic Ocean look like this. Every country gets their
default maritime borders that are 200 nautical miles off their coast. The rest
of the water that doesn’t fall within these exclusive economic zones, is up for
grabs to anyone who can prove that it belongs to them. And that has a lot to do
with a continental shelf. A continental shelf is a part of a country’s landmass.
It’s just covered with ocean. The continental shelf continues until it
drops off into the deeper parts of the ocean. Since the ice has been melting,
countries have been sending out submarines to gather data on the
continental shelf. They put together a scientific case and submit it to a UN
committee. This committee reviews it and decides whether or not the country’s
claim is scientifically valid. Extending from our coastlines, lying beneath the
sea, is an extension of our country called the continental shelf. It
determines the new borders of our country. Knowing where the edge of the
continental shelf lies, adds millions of square kilometers to our country and
makes the resources on the seafloor and beneath the seabed, Canada’s. So far Norway
and Iceland are the only two nations whose continental shelf claims have been
submitted and approved by the UN, but others have submitted claims that are
waiting for approval. Look at Russia’s claims versus that of Greenland, the large Arctic island that actually belongs to Denmark. The claims overlap significantly. Canada is in the process of gathering data and is expected to
submit a claim that will also have some overlap here. The UN committee that evaluates these claims is made up of scientists, not
diplomats. Their sole job is to say whether or not the claim is
scientifically valid. It’s then up to the countries to negotiate how to work out
who gets what. Russia has shown its interest in having
a claim that extends all the way to the North Pole. In 2007 Russia went so far as to plant its flag on the seafloor under the North
Pole. And if push comes to shove, Russia likely won’t concede its North Pole
claim to the tiny nation of Denmark, whose claims overlap with theirs. Russia
is easily the biggest player in the Arctic neighborhood. Half of the Arctic
is flanked by Russian coast and they easily wield the most influence and they
have the most to gain from global warming and the ice melting. And so they’re refortifying and renovating a lot of their strategic outposts here in the
Arctic. 50 airfields by 2020, putting special forces. They’re training, holding
military exercises in the Arctic. In recent years Russia has been reopening,
fortifying, and building new military bases in the Arctic region. They’ve been
publicizing their military exercises, which include reindeer, huskies, and
soldiers in uniforms that look like they belong in a Star Wars film. Russia is sending us important signals, that in the Arctic, they will project their own
power and capabilities and I don’t see a sufficient response from the US and NATO,
to recognize that increased military position. One of those outposts is the
town of Barentsburg, which is right behind me, here on the island of Svalbard. Barentsburg isn’t a military facility,
like all those other dots on the map, but it serves a similar purpose. And to
understand why Russia wants a town on this island, you have to understand
Svalbard. It’s unlike any other piece of land on earth and not only because it’s
the northernmost inhabited part of the planet. The Svalbard treaty, signed in
1920, says that any country who has signed the treaty can have its people on
Svalbard and exploit the land for commercial or economic purposes. The land
technically belongs to Norway, but 45 countries have signed the treaty and so
45 countries have economic claim to this land. The one rule is that no nation,
including Norway, is allowed to have military assets on Svalbard.
So Russia set up a coal mine up here, not to make money. Russia pays for these coal miners to be here to sink economic
roots into this land. If there’s ever dispute about boundaries or if oil is
someday found off the shores of Svalbard, Russia will be at the table where those
discussions are happening and Barentsburg will be their bargaining
chip. It’s their claim to this land. What’s most fascinating to me, is that
this strategy plays out with people. The people living here in Barentsburg are
effectively placeholders for a Russian strategy for the Arctic. And yet when
you talk to them that’s not really on their mind. They’re not thinking about geopolitics, they’re not thinking about
the changing landscape of the Arctic, and what that means for Russian policy. For Russia, coal has been their main economic activity, it’s what they’ve been doing
here for years, but coal is in decline and their operation is slowly losing
people and interest and so they’re realizing they have to pivot to a
different economic activity, that is more sustainable for the future. And for them
the answer is tourism. On Svalbard, it’s kind of clear: the coal mining era, is something which is, you know, disappearing. It’s a bust. Tourism, science, nature protection is its future. You can see Russia’s renewed
interest in this island taking place when you walk around the town of
Barentsburg. The consulate is undergoing some renovation right now. They’re like
gutting the whole thing and renovating after years of neglect. It’s a small
village of a few hundred people and it has an entire consulate. This consulate
serves more as a statement than a functional asset for the Russian
government. All these renovations suggest that they expect this ghost town to
become a major tourist destination, but making money isn’t the motivation here. Of course it’s impossible that Barentsburg one day will support itself
without any funding from the government. It’s impossible. The pivot to tourism isn’t just about keeping deep economic roots in Barentsburg. It also
serves a purpose of turning Barentsburg into a spectacle, for people to see just
how much Russian identity is tied to the Arctic. Newly refurbished buildings, new
Arctic theme bars, museums that tell the story of Russian presence in the Arctic. These aren’t military bases or airfields, but this sort of projection of culture
and identity goes a long way in creating association with a place, in exerting
influence. It’s called soft power. Funding all of this on a faraway island that
belongs to Norway, is the epitome of soft power. And it’s a perfect complement to
Russia’s surge in hard power in the Arctic. Remember all those dots? The most long-range air patrols with bear bombers since the Cold War, forty five thousand troops,
three thousand four hundred military vehicles, forty one ships,
fifteen submarines, and a hundred and ten aircraft. What do you think Russia’s trying to achieve in the Arctic with that massive military buildup? I don’t know. I believe, however, that we are going
to have to figure it out. But up until now Russia has been playing by the rules on the maritime borders front.
Following all the UN protocol and making claims in a very orderly fashion, but
they’ve also shown some provocative behavior in protecting their influence
in the region. On the one hand for Russia to benefit economically from the Arctic,
it has to be a stable cooperative environment. The best thing you can do to
spook off companies and economic investment, is to think that the region could be prone to conflict. But we have to remember that this is the government
that annexed Crimea a few years ago. It’s a government that’s not afraid to
project power in its neighborhood. They’re showing us both tracks, sort of
this dual policy of wanting to be open for business, but be able to growl a
little bit and show its muscular teeth for its military and those two,
eventually they’re a little incompatible. This region is changing fast. The treaties and norms that have kept it in order for years are becoming
incompatible with the physical realities. As the ice melts, the region will become
more valuable. New borders will be drawn, and new opportunities to project power will emerge. We can only hope that Russia continues to
play by the rules. My favorite part about being in the Arctic while I was making this story, was going on these late night hikes. A lot of the footage in this video was shot after midnight, when the sun would kind of just hover around the horizon. The light would be beautiful for hours at a time. And it was just such a crazy experience to watch the sun never set. Anyway, thanks for watching the second episode of Borders, I published the first episode last week. And I’m going to continue to publish these every week, on Tuesdays. I also want to say a big thank you to lululemon, who is a sponsor of Borders. They sent me these ABC pants, which are these sturdy pants are used for both active hiking, as well as just kind of lounging around. They’re super comfortable. Thank you lululemon for sending me these ABC pants, but more importantly thanks for supporting Borders, and for making this whole thing happen. If you want to check out these ABC pants, I’m going to leave a link here, where you can go over to the lulu shop online, and check them out for yourself. That’s it, stay tuned: one week from now, I’m releasing the next episode of Borders.

Dereck Turner

100 thoughts on “It’s time to draw borders on the Arctic Ocean

  1. Vox says:

    Here's the second Vox Borders episode. Being in the Arctic in the summer was an experience I'll never forget, 24 hours of sunlight per day was intense to say the least. Third documentary is coming next Tuesday! Sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date: Thanks everyone for following along this journey.

    And in case you missed it, here's the first episode:

    – Johnny

  2. BooM Borgoyari says:

    Its Antarctic not artic.

  3. Squidward Tortellini says:

    White people: Its time to draw borders

  4. Manuel says:

    Muscular teeth?!

  5. Кукишь Rerbitd says:

    So funny to watch .this. Are countries claiming the Arctic? Who has the opportunity to get to this place except Russia? USA with its rusty icebreaker which is 40 years old and is under repair?

  6. adarsh Yerneni says:

    Protect the climate once lost will never come back.

  7. enrique2395 says:

    China would just claim all of it part of china just like the south china sea

  8. pug whisperer says:

    11:05 muscular teeth

  9. vinzent1992 says:

    Hate the background noise! stop it Vox!

  10. F F says:

    Русские вперед!!!

  11. Nurul Ansari says:

    i dont want russia to play by the rules,i want russia to own whole of arctic sea.india stand by you russian friend

  12. Fadhil Aziz says:

    Where ever there is Russia, there is also 'Cockroach' that will follow…Cockroach like U,S , Canada, Norway and Denmark or other Nato countries.

  13. scottm341 says:

    Not very much research done. No one is allowed at the North Pole.

  14. Joy Augustina Petinrin says:

    My reason for wanting immortality: world drama is so interesting!

  15. God_Pharaoh says:

    as soon as you thought stuff was kinda okay…

  16. Speaking Truth says:

    WW3 is coming quickly.

  17. Isprikitik burkabush says:

    USA: Builds 700 military bases around the globe

    Russia: Builds military bases on its OWN territory

    USA: Wait.. thats illegal

  18. Lombwolf says:

    Random lady: muscular teeth

  19. Yash Anjalkar says:

    @Vox @Johnny bring India-Pakistan OR India-China OR India-Bangladesh Border episode ……

  20. Kathryn Tubridy Pakenham says:

    This video has fallen somewhat into fear mongering. The USA and Russia are both in the Arctic Council together, I doubt very much that Russia would be willing to go into a war with the Americans. The Arctic countries are already negotiating over resources in the Arctic Ocean (hence the central arctic ocean fisheries agreement) and are most likely going to continue negotiations over resources

  21. P. Sperry says:

    Let's remember that if all of those ice sheets melt the sea level around the globe will rise and it will spell doom to a lot of communities!! A lot of cities will be submerged under sea water and yet their concern is oil exploration? Disgusting!

  22. Aphyrius says:

    Putin's doing it for sure

  23. Danial XIV says:

    Russia looks so greedy, 1/4 of their land aren't even populated.

  24. mydogdidthis says:

    Canada’s advertisement sounds a bit to American

  25. せん says:

    Brainwash again? Interesting how you brought up the topic like this town don’t bring income for Russia where as a country, where should Russia support this community regardless for the people live in it anyway? To me, you all just money hungry capitalism pig and only looking at profit!

  26. adr yuh says:

    Oil exist
    USA join the chat

  27. Jacob Hales says:

    Does anyone know the song that plays at 2:52?
    Been trying to find it for hours now.

  28. Jay Del Rosario says:


  29. Areece Piluden says:


  30. Rad Baeron says:

    10:47 what are those EYEBROWS?

  31. Joseph Leonard says:

    Russia has Snowtroopers??

  32. Konstantin - 콘스탄틴 says:

    Crimeа has always been Russia, and will continue to be Russia.
    There is nothing Ukrainian about Crimea.
    Anyone who doesn't believe this or disagrees – go to Crimea yourself and find out. Talk to the locals fact to face. Don't just watch a collection of random youtube videos to form your mindset.

  33. Kaboom Winn says:

    Who owns the Arctic Ocean? The answer is Santa Claus

  34. Paul _ says:

    VOX: its all melting
    Reality: it all freezes back every year.

  35. Paul _ says:

    Russia vs Geenland… to watch

  36. 1 11 says:

    Какие правила !!! С какими правилами вы можете разговаривать, после того что вы делаете, вас могут только презирать , тупые пингвины.

  37. ella song says:

    its so funny that lululemon sponsored this video. Trying to seem woke when their clothes are made of petrol

  38. Asami from Wii Party says:

    Imagine if this wasn’t a vox borders vid 😂

  39. Kitty Cat12 says:

    Arctic Ocean: exists
    Russia: Its free real estate

  40. Ryan Nil says:

    Everybody looking for Oil production, to whom they are going to sale. If world growth collapse who will going to buy Oil. Oil will also replace by renewable energy. This madness for Oil exploration is useless.

  41. Ananda Ferly Pastia Destina says:

    waiting for the china to claim the north pole because of historical reason

  42. Drew Deves says:

    The Russian government is the villain in the world’s story.

  43. IEl tr says:

    Horrible Architecture on the Russian part.

  44. Happy Birthday says:

    Canada won't be safe in the future. One more war between US and Russia, they are in it

  45. Mhd Amayri says:


  46. Joseph Yanan says:

    11:06 Muscular teeth?

  47. Sherry Patrick says:


  48. ghzel mohamed says:

    interesting 🙂

  49. Christian Chin says:

    11:06 whats muscular teeth?

  50. Domingo De Anda says:

    01-16-2020, Wow, it's my Mom's birthday. Thanks for the data.

  51. Agnieszka Petersen says:

    russia will be on our doorstep if it gains that artic territory

  52. Dave Kellar says:

    Why don’t they just pay their ppl to live. There amd sell lemonade lol

  53. Mr. Norris says:

    North Pole is melting because if climate change.
    Business people: WOW, let‘s now mine the oil there!!!

    Big Brain Time

  54. SPTECHNOLOGY says:

    I'm a time traveler, and I can tell you that in 10 years the image will be clear. It looks mind-blowing. Come back in 10 years

  55. LittleWhole says:

    “Muscular teeth” is my new favorite phrase.

  56. John says:

    Never seen muscular teeth before…. :O

  57. perigosu says:

    Climate change = good for business.

  58. rafizi Sruz says:

    The tip top of the artic should belong to UN. For research for animals and environment…not for any country. EEZ already good enough for these countries

  59. Nicola Li says:

    Yo those storm troopers in the arctic were all wearing the standard NATO arctic field fatigues.

  60. Murmeli says:

    Finland once had access to arctic ocean before ww2 i hope that finland could buy that losen area from russia soon

  61. Michael Jing says:

    It's going to be the issue like the South China Sea again

  62. knuntv says:

    Americans don’t like when another countries are conquer other parts of the world!

  63. Nuclear Gandhi says:

    Idk why Russia sold Alaska to the US such a bad move

  64. Shiven Patel says:

    The Chinese own it as it is a mere " North west China Sea".

  65. Frank Castle says:

    Time to build up Alaska

  66. Mayank Pawar says:

    just the matter of fact Russia is the largest country on this planet in terms of landmass

  67. madness1383 says:

    drawing russia in a bad light again

  68. Rus Lemus says:

    Russia is the only one who would actually develope and use the arctic. Everyone else wants a nature preserve.

  69. Pascal Buffalo says:

    It should be like Antarctica. No one should own it and it should be left alone for animals and wildlife

  70. Egor Timatkov says:

    Ah yes
    Muscular Teeth

  71. Designer Hussein El Sayed says:

    Music Name @8:21? Anyone?

  72. Tino N. says:

    6:54 Svalbard doesn’t belong to Norway. It’s international territory. Thats the reason why Norway isn’t allowed to charge taxes in Svalbard. With the Svalbard treaty, Norway only gained the sovereignty over Svalbard.

  73. Shahzeboy 1 says:

    5:47 anyone else have a quick MW2 flashback?

  74. Empire Entertainment says:

    It's our time to shine again!

  75. SUSILO , says:

    Of course oil reserve behind all

  76. Mr Piggy says:

    11:13 America has been doing exactly this for years

  77. Leander Barreto says:

    Try fishing

  78. Sudarshan says:

    No concern for climate change. 🤨🤨🤨

  79. Bartosh says:

    "Sickfucks , they watch their mom dying and quickly start to fight over her heritage."

  80. Coelophysis says:

    I bet China will say that the Arctic has been Chinese since ancient times.

  81. Delight says:

    wow thanks for sharing Vox

  82. Shaochong Zhang says:

    I've been to Svalbard. Beautiful island.

  83. Sean Lann says:

    It's somehow hilarious that conservatives don't believe in scientific evidence of global warming
    But they believe 2 thousands years ago, a dude walked on water and came back to life from death

  84. Anastasia Chorale says:

    "I don't know. But I think we have to figure it out."

  85. Chris A says:

    So sad.. all because of oil. I kinda wished oil was never discovered and instead we used something else to power our needs

  86. Pop Tmac says:

    Russia and China will soon take over the world.

  87. Tyler Christopher says:

    2:19–2:40: ahh, so that’s why politicians say global warming is a hoax

  88. Tsar GoldBear says:

    Well the Russian have a lot of oil and other resources next to their country but i guess they want more

  89. Rudolf Hess says:

    So people are worrying about the rise of sea levels and the extinction of thousands of animals, but these countries leaders are having wet dreams about getting billions from, while the rest of us are dying….

  90. Dakizo23 says:

    This is more sad than I thought it is!

  91. Kenyce says:

    7:55 she's sooo freaking pretty!

  92. Bojan Lackanovic says:

    USA fear of Russia is pathological

  93. Cameron Rogers says:

    Global warming is not based on anything humans are doing, it is a natural cycle. Science has proved the globe warmed and cooled many times long before humans were capable of using carbon or any of the other things that are supposed to be behind global warming.

    Global warming in the current cycle is pretty good for Canada. Now if Canada can just keep ships out of it's internal arctic waters (unless they ask permission and pay for coast guard protection).

  94. Leah Cirillo says:

    the irony of americans' hatred and fearmongering of russia 🙄🙄🙄
    literally every concept you address from military bases to soft power, the US does worse

  95. Parth Rodrigues says:

    It's like the worse we are, the worse we can become-

  96. Spencer says:


  97. low zhi hao says:

    Will we stop seeing ice in 100 years?

  98. doremidoredo doremifasol says:

    Avoid conflict in the far north – says US who is constantly on offense and in incentivizing conflicts around the world.

  99. Waltayr Dantas Filho says:

    coal mining don't matches with the environment

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