"Washington slept through the Arctic": what are Trump's statements about the possible purchase of Greenland
Greenland is of interest to the United States, primarily in the context of rivalry in the Arctic with Russia and China. So experts commented on the words of US President Donald Trump that the White House really discussed the issue of a possible acquisition of the island. The American leader noted that Greenland is of strategic interest to Washington, however, its purchase at the moment is not among the priority tasks. Analysts believe that the fact of such discussions speaks of a change in the world order, and now the issues of territorial expansion are again on the agenda.
US President Donald Trump confirmed that his administration did indeed discuss the issue of acquiring Greenland. Thus, during a press conference in New Jersey, he commented on information recently leaked to the media about the possibility of buying an autonomous territory, which is part of Denmark.
“We just discussed this topic. The island belongs to Denmark, our reliable ally, whom we defend, like many countries in the world. There was an idea (purchases. - RT ), and, of course, it seemed interesting to me strategically. We were interested in buying and will raise this issue, ”the head of state said.
The President noted that at the moment this topic is not a priority for his administration, however, its discussion will continue.
“In fact, it would be a very large real estate transaction. Denmark suffers big losses because it loses almost $ 700 million a year on the maintenance of Greenland. It turns out that she is extremely unprofitable. Strategically, this would be a great acquisition for the United States, ”Trump added.
The owner of the White House also said that he might soon visit Denmark, although the theoretical purchase of Greenland would not be the purpose of the trip.
Trump later posted a funky post on his Twiter account, which posted a collage depicting a Trump-Tower skyscraper on the coast of one of the bays, and promised "not to do this with Greenland."
I promise not to do this to Greenland! pic.twitter.com/03DdyVU6HA- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019
In mid-August, the message that Trump was allegedly interested in buying this world's largest island was published by The Wall Street Journal. The publication referred to its own sources in the White House, according to which the head of state raised this issue in conversations with his advisers and even asked for a legal assessment of such a step.
This information was also confirmed by the head of the White House National Economic Council, Lawrence Cadlow, noting that there is no specificity in this matter yet.
“I don’t want to predict now. I only say that the president, who is versed in the acquisition of real estate, wants to consider the potential purchase of Greenland, ”he said.
Advisor to Trump also recalled that the previous US administration had also considered the possibility of acquiring Greenland.
“Many years ago, Harry Truman wanted to buy Greenland. Greenland belongs to Denmark. Denmark is an ally. Greenland has a strategic position, and there are many valuable mineral resources, ”added Cadlow.
The publication in The Wall Street Journal has caused a stormy response in Denmark and Greenland itself. Many politicians took the news with irony, calling such ideas a joke. The situation was also commented on in the Greenlandic Foreign Ministry, in an official statement which noted that the island was open for cooperation, but not for sale.
A similar point of view was expressed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Eppe Kufood.
“The Greenland government has clearly stated that Greenland is not for sale, but otherwise it is open for cooperation and trade. And this approach is completely shared by the Danish government. Greenland is not sold for dollars, rubles or other currencies, ”he said.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen also spoke on this subject, also rejecting the possibility of selling the island.
“Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I really hope that this (the idea of buying an island. - RT ) was not said seriously, ”the prime minister said.
- Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen
- © Henning Bagger / Ritzau Scanpix
New world order
According to the American political scientist Dmitry Drobnitsky, today the acquisition of new territories is an extremely difficult task, so the question of the likely purchase of Greenland is not a topic of the coming months or even years.
“It will be difficult to do from all points of view. The purchase of territory was carried out for the last time, it seems to me, back in the 19th century. There is no legal basis for such transfers of territories, ”the source said.
At the same time, according to him, the fact that such a topic was raised at the highest level indicates that the world order in which such deals were impossible was a thing of the past.
“This showed that the old world order, in which the sale of territories is impossible, ordered a long life. That in the modern world everything will be different and territorial increments are quite possible, ”said Drobnitsky.
The expert drew attention to the fact that ten years ago, when the ideologists of globalization insisted that states and borders lost their significance, such a discussion was difficult to imagine.
“We need to take this seriously: to the development of territories and even to territorial expansion, the world now has a completely different attitude than it was ten years ago,” he said.
In turn, Konstantin Blokhin, a researcher at the Center for Euro-Atlantic and Defense Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that this statement by Trump may be an attempt to test the reaction to such an initiative both in the United States and abroad.
“It could also be sounding the soil to test attitudes toward it in the US and Denmark. A kind of “Overton window,” the expert said in a conversation with RT.
- US President Donald Trump
- © Jonathan Ernst
The fight for the Arctic
Political scientist Dmitry Drobnitsky also pointed out that the issue of "buying" Greenland should be considered in the context of rivalry in the Arctic zone. According to him, today China is actively investing in Greenland in order to gain access to the Arctic in this way, and Washington is not happy with this.
“This is an attempt to oppose China, which has already invested many billions in Greenland. There is a uranium mine, which is being developed with the direct participation of China, airfields, factories, which are also built with the participation of China. And for Beijing this is an important point - he really wants to have an entry point to the Arctic, ”the political scientist said.
The interlocutor RT also pointed out the importance of Greenland for influencing the Northern Sea Route, which in recent years has become increasingly important. So, over the past 20 years, the volume of annual freight traffic on it has increased 10 times, reaching 18 million tons, and in 2019 it can reach 26-30 million tons.
“This is related to the logistics capabilities of the Arctic, since Alaska hangs over the access to the Northern Sea Route on the one hand, and Greenland also appears as a control point on the other. Perhaps this is an indication that not only Russia, but also the United States has access to both points, that is, the Northern Sea Route will not be the exclusive economic zone of Russia and you can try to make it an international zone, ”said Drobnitsky .
According to Blokhin, many in the USA share the opinion that at one time “Washington overslept the Arctic” and, in particular, Moscow’s vigorous activity in the region.
“They believe that Russia does not just lead, but dominates the Arctic. Russia has an incomparably more powerful icebreaking fleet, consisting of dozens of ships. The USA has only a few icebreakers in operation, ”the analyst said, adding that Washington is also annoyed by the fact that Russia is ready to cooperate with China in this area.
Blokhin also pointed out that, in addition to the increasing importance of the Northern Sea Route due to melting ice, the Arctic is attracting attention with its mineral deposits. According to him, in conditions of depletion of other more accessible sources of resources, the struggle for them will only intensify. This zone is also of strategic importance in the event of a hypothetical conflict between Russia and the United States, since the shortest route from Moscow to Washington runs through it, he noted.
“Therefore, because of the strategic importance of the Arctic, Trump will try to lobby for this idea,” added Blokhin, commenting on the likely purchase of Greenland.
- American icebreaker Polar Star
- © US Coast Guard / Handout
There is money
Interviewed by RT experts agreed that the hypothetical purchase of Greenland would cost the United States a colossal amount. However, they believe that, if necessary, Washington will not have problems finding funds for this.
“There is money. Obviously, if they found funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are estimated at trillions of dollars over 15 years, then they will not have problems with this, ”Blokhin said.
A similar point of view is shared by Drobnitsky, according to whom, Washington has not yet experienced problems with sources of funding.
“The USA has exactly as much money as they give them a loan. And they still give, ”said the expert. “All countries keep money in US government bonds, they are afraid to bring this market down.”
“So far, the United States can take advantage of the current financial system. Recently, a deficit budget was adopted there and the public debt ceiling was raised, and very quickly and quietly, despite the terrible opposition of the Democrats to Trump, so before the election, Trump has no problems with borrowing, ”the political scientist said.
Drobnitsky added that if Washington opts for a long-term lease, the United States can offer Copenhagen to jointly develop Arctic resources, as Denmark alone cannot cope with it. However, at the same time, the United States will set the condition to “expel” China from Greenland, the expert believes.
“If we are talking about a long-term lease, there will be investments, Denmark can promise joint access to the wealth of the Arctic, since Denmark itself will not pull anything there, and Greenland has been in debt like silk in a very long time, since the eurozone crisis of 2011. They have huge potential riches, but they cannot master them independently. Therefore, they can make such an offer, but on condition that the Chinese leave there, ”the analyst said, calling it the most likely scenario.
- © Christof Mattes, via www.imago-images.de
What the EU will say
Touching upon possible problems that may arise in the path of a hypothetical transfer of Greenland to the United States, experts recalled that this issue affects the interests of Brussels, since Denmark is part of the EU.
“The EU is a member of the Arctic club only thanks to Greenland, since Norway is not a member of the EU. How will the EU show itself here, will it be able to intervene in these negotiations and set its terms, block this deal? Will he be able to start up and start investing in the Arctic infrastructure under the threat of the loss of Greenland? So far, the EU has shown extremely low subjectivity, ”said Drobnitsky.
At the same time, he called Denmark a rather unconvincing reaction to Trump's initiative. In such cases, the political scientist believes, states tend to make much tougher statements.
“They did not say that this was not in accordance with international law, they did not protest ... I would put the decisiveness of the statements of the Danes here in a very big question. Strong statements are not made that way. For example, Japan and Russia each time exchange diplomatic notes on the Kuril Islands. Russian Prime Minister arrives on the island - a note of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Japan depicted in the newspapers of the Kuril Islands Japanese territory - a note of our Foreign Ministry. This is a decisive response, and in this case, such a response has not been demonstrated, ”the expert said.
In turn, Blokhin doubted that Brussels might try to somehow oppose the United States if the issue of selling Greenland is on the agenda. According to him, the European Union will probably be “indignant,” but it will not take any practical steps.
“The USA and Europe are parts of one whole. They may have friction, disagreement on many issues, but there are no fundamental contradictions that could make Europe turn away and go against America (especially since this requires opportunities, it is necessary to increase its political subjectivity). Europe nevertheless connects its future with the USA, ”he concluded.