A. Zagorski (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation
Despite the current crisis in relations between Russia and the West, the Arctic agenda remains cooperative and constructive. There are numerous examples of progress in regional cooperation over the past few years achieved not least due to cooperation between Russia and the U.S. However, one should not take it for granted that the region can remain immune to the effects of wider politics indefinitely. The longer the current confrontation between Russia and the West persists, the more likely the space of cooperation in the Arctic would begin shrinking rather than further growing. There already are visible signs that the situation can aggravate in the not-so-distant prospective. A sense of increasing political uncertainty spreads among the Arctic countries. This pertains specifically to prospects of a cooperative management of overlapping claims over the continental shelf in the central Arctic Ocean. Particularly in Denmark, concerns are raised that Russia may abandon its previous commitments in that regard and, instead, turn to unilateral action in order to maximize its portion of the shelf through the North Pole. The Russian military build-up, although so far seen as non-threatening by the defence establishment of other Arctic states, also raises concerns as the focus increasingly shifts from assessing Russian intentions towards its capabilities. The suspension of military-political cooperation with Russia in the Arctic does not only arrest the formation of an inclusive security architecture but cements old division lines. Worst case scenarios project spill-over effects from eventual Russia-West confrontation in the Baltics or in the North Atlantic into the Arctic. The danger of unintended escalation of such developments should inform the Arctic countries to take urgent steps in order to arrest further securitization of the region and increase the predictability of their policies and conventional postures there.
Arctic, Russia, security, military-political environment, military postures, continental shelf
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