Russian president Putin reemerged yesterday after 11 days of not being seen in public. That led to many speculations ranging from the benign (he was in Switzerland with his new girlfriend) to the more serious rumors of internal power struggles.

Whatever it was, I am quite sure it has sinister implications.

At the same time as Putin’s return to the public eye, Russia started huge military “exercises” to deploy 40,000 troops, ships, submarines, planes, etc. in the Arctic. It is my contention that the two are related.

In the last few years the Arctic zone has become a coveted territory. Its phenomenal mineral riches and significant strategic advantage for shipping lanes have become reality with the advent of technology on the one hand and . . . drumroll . . . the thawing of some of the Arctic ice plate. Yes, the effect of the slightly (and uneven) warming temperatures in the world (for instance the Antarctic ice plate has been growing at the same time) is bringing significant benefits (as I’ve said many times before) including the making of the Arctic accessible.

Do not underestimate the huge importance of this area in the world. Many countries are trying to cautiously and gingerly stake some form of claim to the Arctic riches and strategic transportation lanes. Canada is leading the charge due to its geographical proximity. Norway is very interested too. Who is missing? No drumrolls here—the USA is AWOL as it is in all important international conflict zones and issues (do not misinterpret and/or equate talking and blabbering with actually being present).

Needless to say, Russia has a huge claim on the Arctic riches. So, while all eyes are focused on Putin’s next step in Ukraine I would not put it past him to create facts on the ground in the Arctic. His recent claim in a TV interview to having been prepared to use nuclear weapons during the Crimea crisis a year ago makes no sense now 12 months later and especially as we all know that he would never have had to do that given how weak the USA and Western leadership are. They would not have challenged him on Crimea and indeed they did not.

Why mention it now? In the context of establishing Russian territorial dominance in the Arctic zone, it makes sense. It might well be a hidden threat to the West if they dare interfere with his plan to conquer the Arctic. For Russia, especially in its current economic crisis, that could be an extremely important move. For the world, it would be a disaster enshrining Russia dominance and making it a serious super power—all under the watch of this weak and totally ineffective US president.

Now THAT will be one for the history books!