With Russia overextended elsewhere, Arctic cooperation gets a new chance

The presentation of the Russian claim on expanding its continental shelf in the Arctic was a low-key affair at the UN.

The presentation of the Russian claim on expanding its continental shelf in the Arctic was a low-key affair at the UN.

Can the United States and Russia actually cooperate in the Arctic? It might seem like wishful thinking, given that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev asserted that there is in fact a “New Cold War” between the two countries in a speech at the Munich Security Conference. Many people—at that conference and elsewhere—see the idea as far-fetched. Sure, Russia is launching air strikes in what has become an all-out proxy war in Syria, continues to be aggressive against Ukraine, and has increased its military build-up in the High North. To many observers, the notion of cooperating with Russia in the Arctic was a non-starter as recently as the mid-2015. There have been, however, significant changes in Russia’s behavior in the last several months—so, maybe it is possible to bracket the Arctic out of the evolving confrontation.

These and other matters were the subject of discussion at a recent conference at the Harriman Institute of Columbia University in New York, in which we had the pleasure to partake last week.

More reflections from Pavel Baev and Tim Boersma are at the Order from Chaos, 18 February 2016.

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