Russia’s Arctic Strategy: An Analysis of the Role of Diplomatic, Cooperative, and Domestic Policies

The Arctic Institute released an article titled, “Russia’s Arctic Strategy: An Analysis of the Role of Diplomatic, Cooperative, and Domestic Policies.” The article reads in part as follows;

“Within the last decade, the Arctic has emerged as a region of increasing economic potential and strategic importance. In particular, Russia’s interest in the region is detailed in many news reports and studies that concentrate on Russia’s overt military and economic actions in the Arctic. While these works provide valuable insight into Russia’s Arctic strategy, there needs to be more attention paid to Russia’s use of diplomatic, cooperative, and domestic policies intended to extend and project influence and power in the Arctic. Scholars have noted that cooperative measures are assuming prominence in Arctic affairs.1) Yet, rarely do these studies investigate the interconnected nature of various diplomatic and cooperative measures and rarely do they note the role of domestic policies in Russia’s Arctic plans. Thus, an often overlooked aspect of Russia’s Arctic strategy is the intertwinement of specific international and domestic policies, which constitutes a significant component of Russia’s Arctic strategy.

This article examines initiatives in five areas

  1. Arctic heritage
  2. Research endeavors
  3. Diplomatic initiatives
  4. Indigenous peoples
  5. Environmental conservation

These five areas are often complementary, thereby forming a cohesive approach of fashioning a favorable impression of Russia’s Arctic activities. It explores these five measures’ immediate influence and potential and emphasizes events from 2010-2017, a period encompassing many of Russia’s endeavors to implement a comprehensive Arctic policy. Specifically, this study argues that the employment of policies in the above five areas is designed to foster broader global acceptance for increased Russian actions in the Arctic.

Celebrating Russia’s Arctic Heritage

A key aspect of Russia’s contemporary Arctic strategy is to extol its Arctic heritage. At the Third International Arctic Forum, “The Arctic-A Territory of Dialogue,” held in 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the meeting’s location, Salekhard. Putin stated that Russian Cossacks founded the city in 1595, and Salekhard continues to be instrumental in the Arctic’s modernization. As evidence, Putin explained that Salekhard is the capital of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, a center for industrial projects.2) Putin’s reference to Salekhard is intended to remind other leaders of Russia’s historic links to the region and intends to demonstrate that contemporary projects are a natural continuation of Russia’s centuries-old Arctic presence. The repeated use of similar examples that frame Russia’s current Arctic plans in a historical context may prompt the international community’s increased acceptance of Russia’s expanded actions in the region.

Other opportunities to showcase the Arctic’s historical significance occurred during celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II. In a June 2013 ceremony in London, Putin awarded British citizens the Ushakov Medal for their service in the Arctic Convoys, which kept the Soviet Union supplied.3) In 2015 and 2016, the Russian government continued to award medals to British servicemen who participated in the Arctic Convoys.4)”

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