NATO commanders and lawmakers from alliance nations were gathering Thursday to examine the risks posed by the thawing Arctic Circle and the prospect of standoffs among nations rushing to lay claim to the energy reserves there.
The possibility of new shipping routes through once-frozen regions threatens to complicate already delicate relations between countries with competing claims to Arctic territory - particularly as previously inaccessible areas open to exploration for their abundant reserves of oil and natural gas.
The US, Russia, Canada, Britain, China and several northern nations are all attempting to claim jurisdiction over Arctic territory.
Lee Willett, head of the maritime studies program at London-based military think tank the Royal United Services Institute, said that as shipping routes from the Pacific to Europe open up, warships from a host of nations are likely to follow.
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