U.S.-Russia Relations in the Arctic: Cooperation or Competition?

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2018-62-9-103-111

V. Konyshev (konyshev06@mail.ru), 
St. Petersburg State University, 7–9, Universitetskaya Nab., St. Petersburg 199034, Russian Federation.
A. Sergunin (sergunin60@mail.ru), 
St. Petersburg State University, 7–9, Universitetskaya Nab., St. Petersburg 199034, Russian Federation 

Acknowledgements. The article was supported by grants of the Russian Science Foundation (Project no. 16-18-10315) and Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (Project no. 17/2200). 

Abstract. The paper examines the evolution of the U.S. national interests in the Arctic, its economic and military strategies in the High North, as well as assesses the U.S.-Russia relations in the region. The Trump administration did not produce any official Arctic doctrine or fresh ideas regarding its High North strategies. In terms of economic strategies, the Trump administration lifted Obama’s ban on the development of oil and gas deposits in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as well as offshore fields in the Chukchee and Beaufort seas. Trump also decided to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. This decision undermined one of the most important pillars of Obama’s Arctic strategies. The U.S. military strategy in the Far North aims, on the one hand, to contain Russia with the help of strategic and conventional arms and, on the other hand, to protect American economic interests and implement freedom of navigation principle in the region. Similar to other Arctic powers, the United States modernizes its nuclear and conventional forces trying to make them more compact, better equipped and trained. As far as the international aspects of the U.S. Arctic strategy are concerned, the Trump administration simply continued policies launched by Barak Obama, although there was some decrease in Washington’s interest for multilateral diplomacy in this region, including international institutions. As for the U.S.-Russia relations in the Arctic, they still remain very controversial and include both elements of competition and cooperation. There is a lack of trust between Moscow and Washington in the regional security sphere. The Trump administration continues Obama’s sanction policies with regard to Russia, including the oil and gas industry sector. However, the USA may be interested in the Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) shipments from the Russian Arctic (especially in winter time). Moreover, both countries favor coast guard cooperation to prevent poaching and increase the safety of navigation in the Bering Sea and Strait. The U.S. and Russia are willing to enhance Arctic research and education cooperation. Some arms control/ confidence- and security-building measures can be suggested in bilateral and multilateral formats. 

Keywords: USA, Russia, Arctic, D. Trump, cooperation, competition 


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For citation:
Konyshev V., Sergunin A. U.S.-Russia Relations in the Arctic: Cooperation or Competition?. World Eсonomy and International Relations, 2018, vol. 62, no. 9, pp. 103-111. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2018-62-9-103-111

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