LONDON, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- NATO's new European commander expressed concerns Friday about potential disputes over Russia's claims to resources in the Arctic Circle.
U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis noted climate change, which is melting ice around the polar cap, is opening trade routes and access to billions of barrels of oil. That, in turn, could lead to competition and friction, he said.
But in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute in London, Stavridis said he hopes for cooperation, The Times of London reported.
"I look at the high north and I think it could either be a zone of conflict -- I hope not -- a zone of competition, probably," said Stavridis, Supreme Allied commander for Europe. "There are certainly going to be areas of disagreement between the alliance and Russia, but the issues are so big and so important that a cooperative approach, finding zones of cooperation, will be very important in the time ahead."
Russia sent a submarine to the Arctic seafloor in February to symbolically plant a flag and announced in March that it would establish military bases along the northern coastline.
Along with the United States and Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway lay claim to parts of the Polar region.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said this week climate change had "potentially huge security implications" for NATO in the Arctic Circle.