Author: arcticpolitics

Putin’s virtual missiles create real risks

Surprise is a political technique Russia’s President Vladimir Putin excels at, and he did not miss the occasion to spring big surprises during his annual address to the parliament, on 1 March. The first half of the speech contained a rich menu of economic and social promises, but Putin’s delivery was uninspired, as if he was… Read more »

The Svalbard tragedy illuminates the downside of heavy militarization of Russia’s Arctic policy

Taking ownership of and “conquering” the Arctic are themes Russian authorities love to amplify. But sometimes, the harsh Northern reality interferes. The crash of an Mi-8 helicopter in Svalbard (Spitsbergen), last Thursday (October 26), with eight lives lost, was one such occasion. Norway launched a rescue operation within 30 minutes, while Russian officials continued to… Read more »

Russian Foreign Policy Concept is vague on the Arctic

Russia has found itself in a very different international situation than that envisaged by its basic documents in 2013, so there was clearly a need in revising its Foreign Policy Concept – and President Vladimir Putin duly approved a new one on 30 November 2016. The Concept is more assertive and harshly worded than the… Read more »

Moscow keeps promising responses to NATO activities

Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary to President Vladimir Putin, is generally not known for eloquence. But his comment last week (June 7) about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s exercises in the Baltic region stands out both for its convolutedness and uncharacteristic meekness. His point, reproduced by all Russian mainstream media, can be approximately translated as:… Read more »

With Russia overextended elsewhere, Arctic cooperation gets a new chance

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… Read more »

Russia’s Arctic illusions

Russia appears firmly set on its course of militarization of the Arctic. In a region where economic activities are mostly declining and where environmental challenges are on the rise, Russia appears to be engaged in a one-sided arms race. It is glaringly obvious to observers outside the Kremlin that Russia’s severe economic recession makes this… Read more »

Arctic fishing and Russian Maritime Doctrine

Many Arctic watchers were glad to hear about the agreement on prohibiting fishing in the newly-opening waters around the North Pole, signed a couple of weeks ago in Oslo by Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the USA. Indeed, it was a significant step in protecting migrating fish stocks – but Iceland declared strong reservations. It… Read more »

EU is paying attention to Arctic security matters

EUISS has just published a report entitled Arctic Security Matters concluding that the EU, “as a distinctly ‘soft’ security actor”, could play a useful role “in attempts to build up mutual trust and to give assurances that military assets in the Arctic create stability”. The bottom lime is “While much of this positive assessment of the… Read more »

Russia’s accident-prone air might

I made an argument about Russia’s weakening and vulnerability in Brookings’ blog Order from Chaos, suggesting, in particular, that What is less obvious for many Russia-watchers is that the military strength demonstrated so pompously on the Red Square during the May 9 Victory Day parade is also in decline. In Ukraine, the lack of any… Read more »

Clash of exercises in the High North

International Air Force exercises Arctic Challenge 2015 are going on in the High North with Norway as the lead nation and 9 states (including, remarkably, Switzerland) participating with squadrons of various jet fighters (as well as NATO AWACS E3 planes). Russia found it necessary to respond with snap military exercises of its own, engaging not only… Read more »