Discussing Arctic issues in Brussels

Rainy day in Brussels

Rainy day in Brussels

Last Thursday (as it happens, right before the terror alert), a brainstorming session on Arctic matters was organized by the EU Institute for Security Studies, and I am glad to be a part of this undertaking. Juha Jokela from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs is in charge of this project, and the output is not planned on a grand scale, but could be useful for informing the policy debates in the EU bureaucracy. I was impressed with the interest from the EU staffers and experts to the “hard security” issues, and not only to the traditional package of energy, environment and climate change. Indeed, while Russian officials insist that exploration for oil and gas must continue no matter what, such an influential voice as Evgeny Primakov speaks for taking a pause in drilling in the Arctic. Every cost-efficiency assessment would confirm that a pause is indeed due, but this reduction of energy activities only makes it more apparent that military activities are increasing without any pause. While the newly-revised Military Doctrine has only an extra-small entry on the Arctic, there is a stream of statements from the top brass about the priorities to the High North in military build-up and resource allocation in 2015. Even for the traditionally “soft security” oriented institutions like the EU, it is plain impossible to ignore this militarization, so there the new project is right on target.

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