Dire straits of the Russian Arctic: Options and challenges for a potential US FONOP in the Northern Sea Route // Marine Policy. 2022. Vol. 139, Art. 105020. DOI 10.1016/j.marpol.2022.105020.
Against the backdrop of growing tensions in the Arctic there are increasing discussions in the US on whether a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) is needed in the Northern Sea Route (NSR) to assert the state's disagreement with the Russian maritime claims in the Arctic. This paper focuses on the Russian claims with regard to the NSR that could be deemed valid targets for a FONOP. The analysis shows that the US Navy would have only few options for a potential operational assertion. The most viable of them is to transit through certain straits in the eastern part of the NSR. Given the lack of surface ice strengthened warships in the US Navy, a FONOP in the eastern areas of the NSR would imply significant operational risks related to harsh ice conditions even in the summer season. All that, coupled with other factors, gives reason to suggest that for the time being the US will set aside plans for a FONOP in the Russian Arctic waters.
I would like to express special gratitude to Marina Todorova for helping me with the illustrations, Elizabeth Hanlon for a thorough proof-reading and valuable comments, and Cornell Overfield, with whom I had a long and fruitful correspondence inspiring me to write this article.
Keywords: Freedom of navigation | Arctic | Russia | USA | Northern Sea Route | Maritime claims |
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