Staunton, June 30 – Despite some overheated rhetoric, most recently about the Spitzbergen archipelago (cf. jamestown.org/program/spitzbergen-a-new-hotspot-in-the-cold-north-between-russia-and-the-west/), the Arctic hasn’t yet been transformed from a zone of peace and cooperation to a zone of military conflict, Natalya Markushina says.
The professor of political scientist at St. Petersburg State University and a long-time expert on international relations in the North says that both Arctic countries and other powers have too many interests in common to allow that to happen even if on occasion they take steps that make dialogue difficult (rosbalt.ru/moscow/2022/06/30/1964524.html).
She argues that the most important consequence of the recent conflict between Russia and the Western countries in the Arctic Council will be not the end of conversations between the two sides but rather the expansion of participants in their conversations, something that will work more to Russia’s benefit than anyone else’s.
Markushina also argues that global warming is not going to fundamentally change the need for cooperation. The experience of Russia and other littoral states remains too important to act as if the Arctic can be approached as just another body of water, at least for decades into the future. Consequently, cooperation will likely win out there even if it doesn’t elsewhere.
Her words represent some of the most hopeful language coming out of Russia since the Western members of the Arctic Council, in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, suspended cooperation with Moscow in that venue. And they suggest that many in the Russian capital are working even now to come up with ways to cooperate.