Staunton, April 10 – No one can deny that there is a serious political crisis in the Arctic because of the differences between Russia and the West over Ukraine, Katerina Labetskaya says; but given current interests and concerns, the West is likely “sooner to later” to resume cooperation with Russia there despite differences on the Ukrainian war.
The IMEMO expert’s judgment, offered in Nezavsimaya gazeta, is part of a larger effort by Russian observers to try to determine just where and when the West is likely to back away from confrontation with Moscow over the situation in Ukraine (ng.ru/kartblansh/2022-04-10/3_8413_kb.html).
She suggests that the current suspension of cooperation in the Arctic Council may not last and that the work of the Arctic Circle International Assembly may work as both a substitute and as a means to bringing the two sides closer together. Indeed, Labetskaya suggests, the Arctic Circle with its video conferences is assuming vast new importance in that regard.
Its sessions so far have been less political, she continues, by which she means the participants do not talk about Ukraine and do not begin with criticism of Russia; and she says that they are promoting an understanding that Russia, however unstable it may be, is more stable than the other places the West is planning to cooperate with or get gas and oil.
By itself, Labetskaya’s article is not that important; but it is a clear sign of what Moscow officials and experts are likely to be pursuing in the coming weeks and months, some means of keeping dialogue open even if it is blocked at the political level. And despite the Kremlin’s current line, it is probable that some in the Russian political leadership back this as well.