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Russia's strategy in the Arctic: cooperation, not confrontation

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Russia's strategy in the Arctic is dominated by two overriding international relations (IR) discourses – or foreign policy directions. On the one hand, there is an IR-realism/geopolitical discourse that puts security first and often has a clear patriotic character, dealing with ‘exploring’, ‘winning’ or ‘conquering’ the Arctic and putting power, including military power, behind Russia's national interests in the area. Opposed to this is an IR-liberalism, international law-inspired and modernisation-focused discourse, which puts cooperation first and emphasises ‘respect for international law’, ‘negotiation’ and ‘cooperation’, and labels the Arctic as a ‘territory of dialogue’, arguing that the Arctic states all benefit the most if they cooperate peacefully. After a short but very visible media stunt in 2007 and subsequent public debate by proponents of the IR realism/geopolitical side, the IR-liberalism discourse has been dominating Russian policy in the Arctic since around 2008–2009, following a pragmatic decision by the Kremlin to let the Foreign Ministry and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov take the lead in the Arctic. The question asked here is how solid is this IR-liberalist-dominated Arctic policy? Can it withstand the pressure from more patriotic minded parts of the Russian establishment?
TidsskriftPolar Record
StatusUdgivet - 8 maj 2017



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