The Trans-Arctic in the Context of Russian Priorities

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2015-2-106-114

E. Labetskaya, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (

Abstract. In terms of the space concept, the prospects of Russia's new formats of global co-operation development through mutually beneficial transnational partnership in the Arctic are analyzed in the article. The possibility of implementation of Russia’s Eurasian and Arctic advantages in the Trans-Arctic as the key element of global connection between Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific spaces is considered. Until now the "Eurasian dividends" for Russia have been associated with strengthening of its positions in the Pacific Asia. However, the scale of Russian socio-economic and naval presence in this area does not allow the country to become a leader. The situation is completely different in the Trans-Arctic, where Russia’s total capacity is equal to that of other Arctic states. Moreover, in the Trans-Arctic the "Eurasian factor" may become an "influence multiplier" for Russia. This refers to Russia’s key role in the connection between Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific through the logistic chain: Northwest Passage – Northern sea route – Eastern Siberia’s river system – Trans-Siberian Railway. The Trans-Arctic may become a "testing ground" for neutralisation of attempts to isolate Russia from global governance, which appeared in G-8 dismantling. The initiation of a new structure with participation of global “extraregional” actors, first of all Russia's strategic BRICS partners, could become its efficient Arctic pivot. Special attention is paid to subjects of the multilevel governance over the Trans-Arctic, to aspects of connection between transnational spaces, to the potential conflictogenity of the Arctic macroregion, and to the problem of the sovereignty concept classical understanding transformation, which appeared in the Arctic context. The relevance of the topic stems from decisions of the RF Security Council special extended meeting (April 2014), which put the "qualitative strengthening" of Russian positions in the Arctic, "preservation of Russian influence" in the region, and "advancing of partners" as major priorities. The tendencies of the Arctic transnationalisation and of the Trans-Arctic formation indicate a serious challenge for the Russian expert community and policy-makers. On one hand, Russia cannot sacrifice its national interests and restrict its rights and powers in the areas, to which its sovereignty and jurisdiction extend. On the other hand, formation of a new global governance regime in the Arctic gives Russia a chance to strengthen its leadership in this polar area, since the socio-economic, political and reputation dividends brought by such regime might be extremely high. 

Keywords: Arctic, globalization, UNCLOS, national interests, political space, regionalization, sovereignty

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For citation:
Labetskaya E. The Trans-Arctic in the Context of Russian Priorities. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2015, no. 2, pp. 106-114.

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