Staunton, Sept. 28 – As the Arctic has moved from the periphery of international competition to one of its centers, the relations of the Arctic powers, Russia, China and the US, “have taken on the character of a stabilized conflict,” according to Fyodor Voytlovsky, a candidate member of the Russian Academy of Science who specializes on the region.
What that means, he says, is that none of them wants to see the situation develop in a military direction but all “are ready for a political escalation at any moment” and that relations involving the Arctic “have begun to acquire not so much the character of competition but rather confrontation in specific areas” (ng.ru/vision/2021-09-28/6_8263_vision.html).
In reporting his words, IMEMO economist Katerina Labetskaya says that the chief task of Russia during its chairmanship is to try to lessen the risk that any misunderstandings could lead to the situation getting out of control and that toward that end Moscow will press for the resumption of regular consultations of military chiefs of the Council members.
She says that up to this point, the other members of the Arctic Council have ignored that idea but adds that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “retains the hope that in the period of the presidency of the Russian Federation, conditions for this will mature to the point that this aspect of join collective security will return to the work of the Arctic Council.”
Over the next two years, Labetskaya says, Moscow will also deal with questions about the expansion of the Council both by adding new members or observers and by dealing with regions like Greenland and the Faroes which Copenhagen has granted broad autonomy. How these places will act within the Council must be defined.