“Canada and Russia are very concerned about the opening of the Arctic, they are wondering if China or India could conduct military exercises.
“The other thing is fishing. If the Arctic Ocean continues to change, fish stocks will migrate and we could see commercial fishing in the ocean by 2030 or 2040.
Putin is said to be watching over arctic territory
Climate change opens up the Arctic
“Another area of interest is the overexploitation of resources, because you have islands like Svalbard which is Norwegian territory with an international treaty.”
In 2014, Mr Putin called an overnight meeting with the heads of the security services to discuss the resignation of ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. Putin remarked that “we must start working on the return of Crimea to Russia”.
Days later, masked Russian troops, known as the “little green men”, took over the Crimean Supreme Council and captured strategic sites across the peninsula.
This led to the installation of the pro-Russian government in Crimea, the conduct of the referendum on the status of Crimea and the declaration of independence of Crimea.
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Russia and China have strengthened their relations
And Professor Dodds says a similar situation could occur in the Arctic.
He added: “Could we see this as a potential conflict? The Russians can send their little green men and annex Svalbard like they did in Crimea.
“It’s that sort of thing. There are also indigenous communities in the Arctic who demand that their voices and interests be heard.
“An independent Greenland, for example, would be a real game-changer if it left Denmark – because the United States has a large base in the north of the island.
“China and the United States have already expressed interest in the future of Greenland, so that sort of thing, there’s a lot going on that we’re noticing.
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Russia has already made demands on the North Pole
“China is creating all kinds of bilateral relations with the small Arctic states – Finland, Iceland, Greenland – that are causing concern about where they are going.”
Last week, Mr Putin hinted at a potential union between China and Russia, which is the second and third most powerful armies in the world.
The two countries have ongoing hostilities with the United States, with Moscow accused of meddling in the upcoming elections.
Commenting on the strengthening of ties, the Russian president said: “You can imagine anything.
“We have reached a high level of interaction in the field of military-technical cooperation, and that is probably the most important thing.
Klaus Dodds warns we could see more activity
“It’s not just about the exchange of products or the buying and selling of military products, but also the exchange of technology.”
And Navy Chief of Staff Tony Radakin has already warned that Russia is “more active in the Atlantic – our backyard – than it has been for over 30 years.”
The head of the Royal Navy predicted that China could soon also cross the region, thanks to the effects of the melting of the Arctic.
He said: “Climate change is a concern for all of us, but it opens up new maritime trade routes across the top of the world, cutting transit time between Europe and Asia in half.
“And we sit at the entrance to these roads.
“But when China takes its growing navy to the Atlantic, which route will it take – the long route or the short?”
There is a need to strengthen defense in the Arctic
Professor Dodds believes the time has come for the UK and the US to step up relations to tackle these threats and prevent conflict.
He added: “The UK is working closely with the US and Norway and there have been various military exercises.
“We have also had submarines joined by America in operations under the ice and we will invest more in patrols above and below the Atlantic.
“It feels like the Cold War is back thanks to some of the foundational work NATO did before.
“There is a feeling that Russia needs to be taken very seriously and we are likely to see an arctic defense strategy implemented.
One area that has become increasingly vulnerable is that of submarine cables fundamental to communication, the Internet and transactions.
The two US presidential candidates will want to continue protecting the region
But despite US President Donald Trump’s keen interest in the region, Professor Dodds says it doesn’t matter who wins on November 3.
He urged the two candidates to step up their efforts to protect these assets, adding that “this is an area that any president recognizes that Russia must be taken seriously”.
He continued, “We have seen this before where cables are cut under the Arctic causing outages and disruption.
“There are also plans for additional wiring in the Arctic, and in that sense it will be a throwback to the Cold War.
“We had rival submarines patrolling the seabed trying to hook up those cables to listen and get intelligence.
“It’s very old and that means wiring will be another thing on the list that we have to worry about because we know how crucial they are.”