Biden's lack of icebreakers and growing Russian and Chinese influence in resource-rich Arctic threatens US

PRESIDENT Joe Biden is facing an uphill battle in the scramble for power in the Arctic.

As Russia and China assert more power in the Arctic, the U.S. faces a shortage of heavy icebreakers, the massive ships needed to cut through ice.

Despite its chilly disposition, the Arctic is rich with mineral deposits and is likely to become a major shipping route as the ice melts. However, the U.S. Coast Guard only has one heavy icebreaker, the massive ships needed to forge paths through the ice.

The vessel, called the Polar Star, is 40 years old and in need of new parts. The Coast Guard also has a medium icebreaker called the Healy.

Nick Solheim of the Wallace Institute for Arctic Security said two ships isn't enough.

"It doesn't look very good right now," Solheim told FOX News. "We're running out of parts to replace…on the Polar Star."

Solheim said the U.S. needs to increase its inventory to offset Russia and China's increasing presence in the Arctic.

The Coast Guard has plans for at least two more heavy icebreakers. Meanwhile, Russia has dozens, and China has several and is developing more.

The Arctic region is currently overseen by the Arctic Council, made up of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the U.S.

The council also includes observers and so-called non-Arctic states, one of which is China.

China is competing for greater access in the Arctic by negotiating trade agreements with Arctic nations and trying to build infrastructure in those countries.

In other words, the race for the Arctic is on. Rear Admiral John Mauger said the U.S. is trying to up its influence to maintain international order in the region.

"Our concern is in making sure that we're able to maintain access and maintain security of our borders and maintain security of our resources that are up there in the Arctic region and uphold the rule of law and international order as well," Mauger said. 

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