“Hard security” matters in the Arctic

Russian officials added emphasis on the “hard security” matters in the Arctic in the end-of-the-year self-congratulations. Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Security Council and a big fan of Far North, asserted that “strategic risks for Russia in the Arctic are increasing“. Vice prime minister Dmitry Rogozin argued that “serious players are engaged in a battle,… Read more »

Putin’s course on militarizing the Arctic

My last publication of the year 2013 has appeared in The New Times (in Russian), and it examines the rationale for Putin’s course on militarizing the Arctic, while proclaiming commitment to peace and cooperation. The text has suffered from severe cuts, but for once I have no complaints – they have to make room in… Read more »

No Prospects of Cooling Down: why the Crisis in South Sudan must be Solved Immediately

From Flickr via Wikipedia

The South Sudan crisis becomes more difficult to solve by the hour. The window of opportunity to avoid a full scale civil war is rapidly closing. But, finding a viable solution is dependent on a precise diagnosis of core issues involved.

Read more at the blog of the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies, posted December 21, 2013 by Maral Mirshahi for Øystein H. Rolandsen.

 

‘Environmental and Human Security in the Arctic’

I have been writing a short review on the book “Environmental and Human Security in the Arctic” (Hoogensen et al, eds, Routledge: 2014), when a news item about President Putin’s address to the FSB personnel in connection with the “Day of Chekists” has caught my eye. Nothing new in the address (it was quite an… Read more »

‘The Arctic: Region of Cooperation and Development’

The conference in Moscow on “The Arctic: Region of Cooperation and Development” organized by the Russian International Affairs Council with IMEMO and CSIS as key partners had a nice venue in the Lotte Hotel and many important quests, including Deputy Foreign Minister Titov and Deputy Secretary of the Security Council Nazarkin (both in the picture)…. Read more »

The Promise and Perils of ‘Disaster Drones’

The dire humanitarian consequences of the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) in conflict have become all too familiar. In contrast, there has been much less public discussion about the potential humanitarian uses of drones. So-called ‘disaster drones’ offer humanitarian agencies a range of possibilities in relation to crisis mapping, search and rescue and (some way off in the future) cargo transport and relief drops.

Read more in the blog post by Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (PRIO) and Kjersti Lohne (UiO) at the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies, November 1 2013.

Putin’s “green” awareness

It is certainly very good news that the Greenpeace activists one after another are going out of the prison cells on bail, but the case is by no means closed. This photo taken by Arkady Babchenko and published in his very sharp article on Colta.ru about the striking contrast between the Arctic Sunrise and the… Read more »

The Russian Geographic Society

This wonderful map is created by the National Geographic showing the impact of melting ice. The Russsian Geographic Society, in the meanwhile, is far more interested in partnering with the Navy. It is hardly surprising, since Sergei Shoigu after assuming the position of Defence Minister a year ago, has retained his leadership in the RGS…. Read more »

The growth of conflict potential

This picture of captured Arctic Sunrise provides an illustration to the remarkable document prepared by the Russian Ministry for Regional Development. It is a draft proposal for the program on social and economic development of Russia’s Arctic zone published on the Ministry’s website. In the depth of this draft, there are firm assessments about the growth… Read more »

On Distance and Proximity

On July 22nd 2011, I was home from work when I heard a loud blast. It sounded like thunder. Strange that I had not seen any lightning, with a sound this loud, I thought before carrying on with household chores. Half an hour later I took a break, logging onto Facebook. ‘Explosion in Oslo, it’s on TV2!’, a friend’s status said. The TV images seemed unreal. There were familiar images of places I frequently passed, shred into the unrecognizable. The police was asking journalists and others to evacuate the area – in my language, not a foreign language spoken by people far away.

Two years later, and I am studying Norwegian society’s response to the attacks of July 22nd. Our project is studying a constantly evolving phenomenon – from the public debates straight after the attacks, through the so-called Gjørv Report concluding that the attacks could have been prevented, the trial where the perpetrator was convicted, and the memorial ceremonies one year and two years after the attacks… The themes discussed, and the way they are discussed, are constantly changing. And I am here to witness it all, as are most of my colleagues on the project.

The physical and emotional proximity to our field of study has made me wary, knowing that the people I am communicating my research to will also have their own memories and stories of the events of that day. This recognition has been a helpful reminder of the potential emotional sensitivity among those I will be interacting with throughout the project period. More than ever I am realizing how we as researchers run the risk of overlooking this potential when approaching a post-crisis community from a distance. Keeping this potential sensitivity in mind while trying to create the necessary distance in order to see patterns and connections will be a continuous challenge, but also key, in striving for a balance between distance and proximity.